Taming The Stuff: Storage of Kids’ Art, School Projects, Etc…

Kids’ art work organized on the wall in frames.

Every year I promise I will get better at organizing my kids’ art projects, school projects, etc.. To be honest I still have the bags of items that came home from school and need to be sorted through in my office closet. This used to be the bane of my existence because I loved everything they created, beat myself up over needing to keep it for them [and us], and at the same time was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity. Here are a few suggestions of how to tame the stuff:

1. Buy Frames for Special Art. The pieces we love go on the wall in our dining room. Nicely displayed in matching frames I purchased at Michael’s. They come in different sizes and you can open them easily so I can slip in new pieces and remove the old ones when the time comes. These types of frames are often on sale. Just buy lots of them if you care about them matching.

2. Create a Designated Place for All School Work/Art.I put two [I have 2 kids] file folders [the accordion type] in a file drawer with each of my kid’s names & school year on the front. When items come home I look them over to see if anything still needs to be done with them, then I put it all in the folder. This includes report cards, art, work, etc… I can cull through that pile any time. Don’t forget to put a name and date on each piece.

Accordion file with my kids’ school/art for the year

3. Buy a Large Tupperware for Each Child. After I have culled through the yearly accordion file I move them to a tupperware I created for each of my kids. I keep the accordion files by year in the tupperware. Larger art pieces go in the tupperware along the edge. Don’t forget to date these items.

A few reminders:

  • Take the first pass at their art/school work file without kids. Then you can include them to see what is important to them.
  • Write your child’s name and grade/age on items as you file them. Especially if you have more than one child.
  • It’s not too early to create a storage system–even if you have a very young child. The amount of work created will only increase as they get older.
  • Whatever you do, make it easy for yourself. If it’s not easy you won’t do it.

How do you store your kids’ stuff? What works best?

DIY: Finger Paints & Play Dough

I love making things myself that I would normally purchase. These are simple, fun to get the kids involved with, and your kids can literally eat what they produce–though I don’t recommend it. Use baby food jars or other recycled jars to hold your paints and play dough. Make sure to get the kids involved mixing and adding colors.

Finger Paints

Younger kids: Just get in there and get messy. Paint outside so you can just rinse the kids off with the hose. Try making patterns with uncooked pasta, nature items such as sticks, rocks, etc. Paint rocks to put in the garden–these are super cute! Encourage your young kids to play with mixing colors. Have them guess what color they will create and then give it a try.

Older kids: Try making block prints [older kids can carve a piece of wood or get a block from Michael’s for carving] or veggie prints [experiment cutting veggies such as celery and use those veggies as blocks for printing]. Work with older kids on making their own color wheel by making a circle [or any other shape], breaking it into fractions. Color in 3 fractions with primary colors [blue, yellow, red], then work to blend these colors in the fractions between them. Create a color wheel.

Play Dough

Play dough is so super easy to make! The kids love it and you probably have all the ingredients you need right now in your house.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Food coloring by drops

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a pan and stir.  Cook over very low heat, stirring until a ball forms.

2. Add food coloring and mix thoroughly until desired color.

3. Cool on foil. Store in covered container.

#DIY #Boulder #Kids

DIY: Creative Kids’ Structures [Forts, Tents, Etc…]

bellissimakids.com

Recently I have been really inspired by tents, forts, teepees, and any other fun place for kids to play, dream, create, be inspired, and just be a kid. There are a few links below to articles on just this. Remember that you and your kids can build a fort with a simple sheet [go to Savers for a cheep one you don’t mind leaving outside] and some sticks. Or start with a tree for the base. Have you made any shelters with your kids recently? Share you photos and ideas, please!

improvisedlife.com

Kai working on his own fort in our backyard.

Look at these two sites of inspiration:

http://www.improvisedlife.com/2012/06/22/fort-magic-pop-up-rooms-indoors-and-out/

http://www.bellissimakids.com/2012/06/20/playtents-teepees-on-etsy/

DIY: Drinking Glasses As Whiteboards–You Can Write On Them!

If your house is like ours after a full-day there are a dozen cups laying around the house. My kids get one out in the morning. I get one out. That’s three. But then friends come over. Say we add a few more cups. But then they all forget whose cup is whose and in an instant there are another 4 cups out. I pull my hair out with this issue. But thanks to the blog, theimprovisedlife.com, I have found a solution.

Sharpies. Sounds crazy, but they tested it out and you can write on glass [or mirrors] with a sharpie and it simply washes off. So get a great selection of Sharpies [you can pick up colorful packs at Costco reasonably] and have the kids, their friends create a work of art [or just write their names] on their glasses. So simple. So creative. So easy to do. Saves time running around after your kids’ glasses all around the house and opens up room in the dishwasher for more important things. You can also remove the writing with warm, soapy water.

Photos from the improvisedlife.com which is a great blog!

Additional uses: wine glasses instead of those dorky wine rings, write love notes to your kids/partner on the mirror, or take notes.

Boulder Family Projects: DIY Recycled Garden Markers

The garden is finally all in the ground. It looks great, but we really needed some markers. I hate to let this opportunity slide to get the kids involved in creating something for the garden. They love to pick the plants and harvest the produce and fruit, but I wanted them to have some artistic buy in, so I wanted them to create garden markers. Here are some ideas of ways you can create markers:

1. Wood Markers: You can pick out sticks or 1×2 cedar in short 1ft lengths [more or less as you like]. The kids can carefully carve points on the ends for pushing into the ground. Then then can draw [paint or sharpies] on the wood. On sticks you could create flags with tape to draw on.

2. Rock Markers: Find rocks and have the kids paint names of the plants/veggies in the garden. These turn out super cute. Any rocks work. I like to take the kids on a walk to find the “right” ones for them.

3. Recycled CD Markers: Remember all those old CDs sitting around that you never listen to? The ones that clutter your house. Grab some of those [If you don’t have them ask a friend or neighbor!] and have your kids use sharpies to write the names of each of your plants/veggies. They can add artwork or whatever they like. They could easily embellish with gems or stickers [great for little kids!]. We then used a glue gun and some popsicle sticks to make the stake. They love them and they were so easy!

What every you decide to do consider having your kids go into the garden with you and write down a list of the different veggies/fruit you have. They can do some fun math with this one [e.g., if we have 5 tomato plants, 6 pepper plants, & 3 basil plants, how many do we have all together]. They can also get some writing practice by writing down the different types of plants for which you need markers. The ideas are endless. Whatever you do have fun with it! It always helps if you stay involved and make some markers or something else that has to do with the garden at the same time.

How do you get your kids involved in the garden?