Parenting Young Picasso: Organizing Children’s Artwork

The only societal sect to produce more art than artists are school children. Those little peanuts can make more art in a week than was made during the whole Impressionist era. It can become difficult to balance honoring your budding artiste with your desire not to be swallowed up in construction paper and crayola tracks. But don’t go having a tantrum just yet, because I’m here to walk you through this kiddy conundrum.


When young Renoir toddles home from school with his latest masterpiece, you will most likely wish to display it. The rule is this: there must be a cap on the number of artworks displayed at any given time. This decision should be based upon how many children are in your family, and how large of a space you have to work with. Artwork is displayed for, let’s say, a week, two weeks, a month, at which point it is to be taken down and replaced with the latest commissioned pieces. You’ll want to choose a display method that allows you to easily make this swap.

Short-term storage

The retired art should be collected in a box, bin or tray of some sort, labeled with the child’s name and grade. Everything that comes off of the gallery wall should be dated and then immediately placed into this bin.

The edit

So here’s where it gets sticky as sentimentalism collides with organization. I’m just going to come out and say this, so prepare yourselves: you cannot keep every single piece of artwork your darling angel makes. If you try to, you will end up with a mound of paper so deep that to admire these things later on will require an all out expedition. A manageable amount of artwork will allow you to see a child’s progress over time. A mass of projects will be extremely difficult to keep neat, meaning that it will turn into a giant jumble of indistinguishable scribbles.

To keep the collection under control, conduct an edit of the artwork with your child. This can either be done at the end of every month, or at the end of the school year. Choose just one or two pieces from each month that you want to save. Your child should, if they are old enough to know their toes from their canvas, be an active participant in this process. This means: honor and respect the artist’s integrity by keeping the artwork they choose.

Swallow down the anxious and guilt-ridden lump in your throat and RECYCLE the pieces that don’t make the cut. It will be okay – there will be much more to come, I promise.

Long-term storage

You can either choose to simply keep the edited collection in the short-term holding bin, or you may wish to use an alternative storage method such as an art portfolio, or a filing system. Just be careful that grade years and children remain distinguished.

Tech alternative

As an alternative, you can immortalize your prodigy’s work by digitizing it. Scan and upload artwork onto your computer, or take pictures of it. This will allow you to save the images without having to actually store them in your home. Once you’ve done this, you can use the images to make a book or a compact collage.

At the very least, I recommend going the tech route when it comes to larger projects. Snap a pic of a 2-foot macaroni village creation and you instantly relieve yourself of having to figure out how to store it for all of eternity. You can then place the picture of the project in the appropriate bin or file.

Image Credits: Jan Eleni Interiors, Apartment Therapy, Dynamic Frames, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart, Elle Decor, The Container Store, Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Jan Eleni Interiors    

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  1. These ideas are great! I have so much art from my 7 year old that has no where to go but a fat folder where no one can see. I’m totally doing the last one… :) Thanks for posting these!!!

    • livesimplybyannie says:

      So glad you liked! I know my parents definitely struggled with this as well- especially so because both my sister and I attended a very artistic school, so we probably made at least triple the amount of artwork as the average kid! :)

  2. my sister has everything her kids have ever drawn… so cute! hope you’re having a nice weekend!

  3. wonderful ideas! i love the title you chose… young picasso :)

    happy Monday


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