Ways to keep school-year memories and artwork
On September afternoons, kids often come home from school bearing armfuls of classroom art. The evenings often bring comments about their day’s events and sometimes hilarious descriptions of their world.
Parents are sure they’ll save and remember all those paper creations and memorable words. But the pace of life soon takes over, and even organized moms and dads can end up inundated.
It’s worth creating a system to manage the flow because school artwork can quickly pile up, said Laura Russell, founder of the craft blog makelifelovely.com and a mother of four. With just a bit of creative effort, you can also find ways to hold onto all those funny comments you’ll want to remember years from now.
As a new school year begins, here are four easy projects to help do that:
Follow Them with Photos
You can build on the trend of snapping and posting “first day of school” photos by adding written notes in your kids’ own handwriting, said Kayla Kitts, special projects editor at HGTV.com. Take a photo on that first day, and that evening have kids write out a page listing their current dreams and favorites.
Include five or 10 questions about anything you’d like: the career they’d love to have someday, their favorite school lunch, best friend, favorite class. Have them write it out in their own handwriting to preserve that too, said Kitts. Then scan or photograph the page.
Do the same on the day before their December holiday break, and again during the final week of school.
Then supplement those three photos and images of their written surveys with other photos from school events or candid shots with friends, or scans of their school artwork. Lay it all out in a photo book you can order online.
“It’s a really cool book to give grandparents,” Kitts said, and is a keepsake your child will enjoy in the future.
At the end of elementary school, you can easily create a book that includes these photos and written comments as a gift to a special teacher.
Winnow Their Work
Russell begins each year by setting aside a big file-folder box for each child. She labels one hanging folder for each month, with some spares in case files fill up before a month ends.
If that level of organization sounds too ambitious, keep a large plastic bin handy.
“Stuff all the art in there,” Russell said, and go through it periodically, asking each child which pieces are their favorites.
Once you’ve pared things down to their favorites and yours, Russell suggests slipping the art into plastic sleeves in a three-ring binder. Her kids love thumbing through their binders from past school years.
“While I’m in charge of the books now and don’t let the kids pull them out unless I’m sitting with them, I plan on giving them their books when they’re older,” she said.
Another suggestion for storing and celebrating art: “Scan the favorite pieces as they come home. From those scans you can make a slideshow for each year of school,” Russell said.
“Life is short, and the artwork that comes home right now can be a wonderful way to tie generations together.”
Save Their Sayings
Buy a paper date book for each child (it can be for the current calendar year or for the 18 months that begin in July and run through the end of next year). Make sure the book offers writing space for each day — ideally half a page. Keep the book in a high-traffic spot at home with a pen attached.
When one of the kids said something that you’ll want to remember, write it on that day’s page. Then, during the weekends, ask your child to describe the previous week at school. If they wish, they can also draw pictures. It’s a wonderfully analog way to preserve a school year in our digital world.
A twist on that: Kitts suggests keeping a few glass jars around the house, along with slips of blank paper and a pen. When your child thinks of something they want to preserve, have them jot it down, write the date on it and put it in a jar. You can do the same.
Whether it’s a jar, book or even a note typed into your phone, “just write down those precious memories now,” Russell said. “We think we’ll never forget those precious words and how old our kids were when they said them, but the fact is that we do forget.”
4. Have a rotating display of their art in their rooms.
Kitts suggests hanging a few empty frames in various sizes filled with a thin sheet of cork on your child’s bedroom wall. Place pushpins in the corners of each frame. When your child brings home art they’re excited about, pin it into a frame. The pins make it easy to rotate artwork in and out.
If the walls are already full, try hanging a length of twine and use clothespins to hang a rotating selection of school artwork.
Useful move as the year wears on: Each time you reach into the bin of creations to select something new to display, choose a few items to discard.