8 Ways to Create a Photo Book Time Capsule of Kids’ Artwork

Kids are prolific when it comes to creating art. Their imaginations drive them to execute multiple studies on a single subject—a proclivity that makes even the most disciplined artists blush. As a parent, I love seeing the abundance of creative outpouring. But the side of me that likes to keep my home relatively streamlined and tidy shudders at the sheer volume of work that bursts from backpacks and piles up on the craft table. My solution? Publishing kids’ artwork in a photo book. Check out the following eight ways to turn dioramas, for example, into digital masterpieces that will outlast the glue holding uncooked macaroni to pieces of construction paper.

1. Make an Art Inbox

To stay on top of the influx, while paying due respect to their creativity, I’ve started keeping an art “inbox.” I scan the good stuff and surreptitiously scrap the rest. I can then decorate the fridge and bulletin boards with the best pieces until the construction paper fades or they’ve entered a new period of artistic expression. For sculpture and mixed media, I snap a picture and keep it in a folder entitled “kid art” on my computer’s desktop.

2. Pace Yourself

kids' artwork photo book

Once a month or so I upload my pictures into my Mixbook photo book entitled, “Kids’ Art 2012.” Then, when I have time I can play with layouts based on holidays, themes, awards, etc. I try to devote a page to each child, then create a gallery of art that serendipitously works together. For this book, I worked in artwork by my two boys, plus some pieces by my niece and nephew.

3. Choose a Photo Book Theme

Save Mixbook’s amazing themed templates for projects that are about a specific holiday or vacation. For kids’ art books, go with a very simple template that lets their creativity shine. I recommend using Mixbook’s Neutral, Black, White, or Color Portfolio. Use stickers sparingly so they don’t take away from the original art.

kids' craft photo book

stickers in kids' artwork photo book

I mirrored a star from my niece’s elephant drawing, and I stuck a funny black spider on the page about my son’s “back oh-widder” (his name for a Black Widow spider). As long as you keep them few and far between, stickers can enhance your layout immensely.

4. Snap It, Then Scrap It

preserve kids' 3D artwork in a photo book

One major revelation: when you scan or photograph artwork that features messy items like glitter, pasta, cottonballs, or popcorn (my most dreaded preschool “medium”), you can trash them with NO GUILT and NO MESS. Win-win. One note on this: keep a can of compressed air on hand so you can de-glitter your scanner after you’re done. Also, much as I love the sculptures that come home, there really is only so much space in my home for glazed hunks of clay. Snap then scrap, I say (in due time, of course).

5. Scan Certificates & Awards

scan certificates in kids' artwork photo book

scan awards in kids' artwork photo book

This past year, my niece and nephew won first and second place in a poster contest. Being the proud auntie, I wanted to feature their award alongside their winning artwork. Paper awards like this aren’t quite significant enough to frame, but what a shame if they were lost forever. Placing them in a book like this saves the memory—and you can feel free to recycle the original paper certificate.

6. Curate A Series

kids' artwork photo book series idea

I also loved how a few of my younger son’s pieces that came home from preschool come together to create a “blue period,” if you will. Individually, perhaps none of these pieces would have made the cut, but together they create a series where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. He’ll be so proud to see them showcased this way.

7. Get Creative

get creative with kids' artwork photo books

Another trick I love is taking my child’s artwork, then flipping it and creating a reflection of the original in black and white. It’s not that the art itself needs embellishment; I think it’s just fun to have your child see that you can enhance the experience of art by playing with it—something that Mixbook does that no other online book editor allows you to do.

8. Make Notes 

add text in kids' artwork photo books

My littlest guy—age 3—still makes art that’s very rudimentary, but no less worthy of display. For his pieces in particular, because they require some, ahem, interpretation, I like to write down—using his words—what it is right at the bottom of the artwork. When I scan the picture, the title is there for the ages. I like to add a little anecdote to the photo book’s design anywhere that there’s a story about what he created.

What do you think of my kids’ art book? Would you create one like this? (I can’t tell you how easy this was!) See my entire kids’ artwork photo book below!

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | Learn About Mixbook Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • wendy April 10, 2012, 10:14 pm

    Inspiring! I need to put this into practice! My boys are very prolific — especially my youngest. I see a lot of scanning in my future!

  • Nina April 14, 2012, 8:17 am

    Marielle,
    Thanks for the great ideas! Always looking for ways to keep artwork from getting ruined and clogging up shelves. The guilt of throwing it all away gets to me. We’ll see if I can get my act together. Last year, I started taking photos of my girls’ paintings. I think I’ll have to photograph instead of scan because of my limited access to a scanner.

  • Crystal April 21, 2012, 7:59 am

    I love this idea, I must get busy with 3 kiddos and eight years of artwork! I cannot wait.

    Nina, I actually picked up a handheld portable scanner for less than $100, I have not used it yet, but I have read some great reviews about it. Just wanted to let you know that is out there in case it helps. Good luck!

  • Kerry April 21, 2012, 10:41 am

    Very fun. Thank you for sharing. Just looking at your ceative layouts has given me some great ideas for my daughters’ artwork. Now for the hard part; tackling the plastic containers filled to the rim from over the past ten years!

  • Jeanette April 22, 2012, 4:26 am

    Love your Art Book. This will be one of my next projects. I have been scrapping the actual artwork but this seems much nicer and will last forever. The picture quality is great too. What kind if scanner do you have and can you scan larger projects on it?

  • Carol April 22, 2012, 5:28 pm

    Your book looks great. I’ve been doing this for a while. My kids are parents themselves now, but I had saved their art work and report cards and have scanned them all. I have also scanned my Dad and Father-in-laws letters and commendations from the service. I pretty much scan anything that I might want to use in a family book.

  • Jenn April 23, 2012, 1:25 pm

    Love this!!! I have two dresser drawers full of artwork from my two young children that I can’t bear to throw away. Now I can, without feeling the guilt! You have shown me a way to “keep” these treasured items and free up some drawer space. ;-)

  • Jeanette May 8, 2012, 4:57 am

    Can anyone suggest a handheld scanner…I would like one for Mother’s Day…brand and price range?Thanks:)

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