- 3-ring binder
- clear plastic page protectors
- many copies of the same image to color
Lots of parents struggle with how to save/store their children’s artwork. Do you throw it away (like my folks did)? Do you save it all and end up with a clutter nightmare? Or do you find some magical middle ground where you save your favorites, and then… put them in a box in the closet, never to be seen again? What you really want is a neat, organized way to view artwork through the years, so that you can marvel at how your children’s skills and creativity level have changed as they’ve grown. I’ve got just the solution for you.
Start with any standard-sized 3-ring binder. This can be anything from a simple white binder to a fun neon green binder or even a binder made of rich Italian leather. Once you’ve got the binder, purchase a bunch of 8.5″ x 11″ top-loading plastic page protectors to put in the binder (Fig 1).
You can see where I’m going with this, I’m sure — put the artwork your child creates into the page protectors in the binder. However, I want to take it one step further. I want your child to color the same picture every year. That’s right. The same picture.
If you print a bunch of copies of the same black-and-white picture and let your child color one of them every year, then put it into the album, you’ll have a fascinating collection by the time he’s grown. You’ll be able to see how he or she has developed motor skills, artistic talent, and creative expression. I suggest you coordinate the yearly coloring with the child’s birthday, which will make it even more valuable of a memento, and also make it easier to remember when to do it.
To help you out, I’ve created a blank coloring template (of a simple house) that you can use for your child’s album. You can print this directly from your browser (you’ll need the free Adobe Reader) or you can save it to your computer and print it later.
Of course you can also make your own template image, too, but be sure to pick something that will work for many years as your child grows older. (In other words, don’t pick a cartoon character that your child likes now, because she might not like it in 5 years.) I suggest you go ahead and print 20 or 30 copies out now, and put them all into the album, then let your child color one each year. (Better to have extras on hand!) Be sure to use a high-quality paper so that your treasures will last for years to come.
To illustrate how adorable the results can be when you view your photos over the years, I’ve had several of the kids I know (all different ages) color my house picture and included photos of their artwork for you (Fig 2 and 3). I love the results!