How to Curb Over-Generated Art Without Curbing the Imagination


Babies draw. Toddlers draw. Kids draw. They color from the first time they get a crayon in their hand to the time they learn to write, as sketches and drawings are their best way of written communication and expression. As parents, we become extraordinarily fond of the smacked-on dots and lines when babies learn to put crayon to paper, or the endless circle-shapes as our little ones learn to enclose space. Then, as they grow, there are the countless sketches of the same form: a flower, bug, person, house, car…whatever today’s obsession is, it repeats page after page. This development is essential for children’s learning, but there is an unfortunate the side effect: a growing stack of completed art. Here are some ideas for parents and grandparents on maintaining the sentimental attachments but allowing the collection to be, well, not quite so intimidating.

Recycle the kids’ drawings in a way that you still get enjoyment. Make notepads by slicing your standard-sized pages into quarters and stack carefully. Paint one edge of the stack with rubber cement and let dry. With these, you can make your grocery lists around giant insects, or between the bands in a rainbow. Set the table with your kid’s art as placemats. Enjoy them during dinner and use them for easy mess disposal. This may even inspire dinner-themed series. With these two ideas, you can continue to smile at the cute creations and still reuse some of that perpetual pile.

If you think ahead for gift-giving days, you can give your kids long sheets of butcher paper to color on. With the completed art you can wrap all your holiday gifts. This is especially useful for tracing your kids and having them illustrate themselves so you can place a hand or a head on a prominent place on the package. It’s also useful in preventing a thorough depletion of your printer paper. In another vein, make a stack of art to go through and find the most distinct, careful, or abstract of your favorite drawings to cut out. Put a picture of your kid on the reverse side, cut to shape, and laminate the whole thing with clear contact paper. Punch a hole at the top, string, and you have beautiful ornaments to commemorate your child’s growth on one side, and motor skill and cognitive development on the other.

Use the art for crafts later. Give your kids coloring books. Save them after they’ve been colored, and when they need to hunt for pictures to cut and paste for various projects, snatch them out. Marvel at how much your kids have grown as the munchkins hack their former masterpieces to pieces. Or, cut paper into two-inch-wide strips and have your kids color those. Then, you can use the strips for things like bookmarks (but not with crayon drawings: the wax will transfer to your novel), paper chains, bracelets, or as already-decorated paper mache.

Change the scenery and help inspire your kids’ development. Set up a chalkboard or whiteboard at your child’s eye level and have them go at it. A square of felt will erase both. With this arrangement, drawing is presented in a different format (vertical) and has a different texture. It also eliminates the use of paper, and if you’re around with your camera, you can shoot pictures of your favorites before they’re enthusiastically erased. Investing in sidewalk chalk is another approach. Like the inside boards, this eliminates the paper by-product and supplies a different texture and forum for drawing. It has the advantages of butcher paper in that there is sufficient space to trace the whole body. This idea also gets your kids outside and possibly hop-scotching and other physical activities.

Image courtesy of yorokobi

This entry was posted in Education. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to Curb Over-Generated Art Without Curbing the Imagination

  1. princessperky says:

    we send em to work with my husband, he has a rotating display..and the rest is recycled….Though we also use what we can for cards, gift wrapping, and the like. (I made ‘paper clay once out of old school sheets..the pencil and print didn’t seem to effect the clay at all..bit gray I guess)

  2. Shannon says:

    I enclose ours in letters to far-off relatives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *