How many bins of your kids’ precious art work are you hoarding in a dark closet somewhere? Can’t bear the thought of throwing it out, but no idea what to do with it? Your kids have outgrown the “stick it on the fridge” stage but you want to hang on to the memories of their childhood through their artwork forever!
Like you, I had 4 giant plastic bins in my basement storage room filled with my 3 daughters’ gorgeous artwork from nursery school right through elementary school. As my oldest daughter finished grade 5 I realized that the artwork had finally stopped coming home and it was time to decide what I was going to do with it all.
I started taking photos of the kids’ bigger projects that HAD to be recycled and, despite their tears of it being their most favorite art project ever, I was on to something with the “take a pic and pitch” approach.
I tried a few apps that encourage you to take photos and date your kids artwork but it was getting complicated with 3 kids and an iPhone overflowing with so many other photos.
One day I decided that was it. I dragged all 4 bins to my sunny bright living room, got a piece of white Bristol board to be my background and sat on the floor and started taking photos of every single piece of artwork. Once a picture was taken, the artwork went directly into the recycle bin and from there I created STUNNING photo books, that not even I could believe how fabulous they turned out.
This process took me months to do (and YEARS of storing art work), but these books are worth it. I promise. Look how great they turned out!!
5 Steps to Turn Your Kids Artwork Into Stunning Photo Books
Step 1 – Keep all the artwork in a large box or folder separated by school year. We created folders by folding a large piece of Bristol Board in half, the kids wrote their Grade on it and then coloured. The folder itself became art! When the art comes home, file it in their folder for that Grade. Each year make a new folder and tuck the old one away in that closet.
Step 2 – Keep it going until you run out of space in the closet or your child completes Grade 5 – the art work seems to stop coming home that year. *See options below for reasons I don’t suggest doing photos right away or starting the books too soon.
Step 3 – When you are ready, take one folder at a time and empty the contents. Take a photo of the front of the folder or box so you know what Grade and which childs artwork it is. Then take a photo, one by one of each piece of artwork on a white background (Bristol board works great). Using a well lit room and taking photos in daylight helps your photos be clear and bright.
Step 4 – Photos taken, you are ready to start your photo book. I used Blurb.ca and found it simple. I used Bookify to create a Photo book,
Standard Landscape, 10×8 in, 25×20 cm . You have unlimited pages, can put multiple images on one page (which I did for smaller art pieces) and change the background colour for each grade so you can see the change.
Upload photos one year at a time so you can get them on pages and spaced out properly before adding a new year.
When all years are done, spend time choosing the best art piece for the front cover, and another one for the outside back cover and add a message to your child on the front or back to personalize it. I also used each child favorite colour for their book – one is all pinks, another all purples and the 3rd is blue.
Step 5 – Order TWO copies at least. One for you and one for your child. They may not appreciate it now, but they will later in life!
My photo books ended up being between 120-145 pages each. I used high gloss paper and spent the extra for good quality, but stuck with soft cover and each book was around $50. Blurb.ca always has deals for 30-40% off so wait to order and save some money.
Then enjoy the books, and the empty closet where all the artwork once was. It was an inconvenience to store all that artwork over the years, but now that I have these books it was all worth it. It’s an incredible reminder of them growing up, favorite teachers, friends and activities as they went through elementary school.
* There is the option of doing the photos at the end of each school year but that means storing them on your phone (dangerous and takes up so much memory) or starting your books when they are in kindergarten, but that may end up being more work. Blurb.ca only allows you to keep a project “open” for 2 months before having to edit it or order the book. So unless you plan on editing and adding to the book every 2 months for the 8 years they are going though elementary school, you might want to store the bins and attack it all at once when artwork stops coming home.
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About Deb Lowther
Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She contributes Family Health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy and staying active. Find more inspiring tips from Deb on IronKidsNutrition.ca and MyBoomerNutrition.com and follow her on both Twitter and Pinterest @Deb_Lowther .