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artwork to represent the children as a group, as a
community of young people who worked together
on a year-long creative journey. I included photos
and documentation panels that shared the chil-
dren’s efforts, conversation, and decision making.
The photos and documentation also related the
children’s struggles and explorations.
In addition to the group artwork, each child
had her own panel consisting of several smaller
pieces of independent work. One year two children
had small photography exhibits because they had
expressed particular interest in learning to take
photographs—and they really learned to take great
shots! It was an amazing experience.
Over my career, I have worked in various en-
vironments, including family child care settings,
where space for displaying artwork was very lim-
ited. I have now learned to think big and to search
for resources. You never know what will be avail-
able in your community, and I encourage you to
If you choose to save a lot of the children’s work
for conferences, art shows, or other times, showing
artwork in bulk requires first saving the work in an
Archiving and Creating
Portfolios Saving children’s work takes diligence, space, and
organization. It really is a lot of work to hold on to
artwork and keep up with the documentation and
storage necessary. Here are some tips for making
• Start your documentation and individual files
for children in the beginning of the year, and
follow through all year. Setting aside a time,
weekly or biweekly, is most helpful.
• Have a designated space for all children’s work
before it gets separated. Large boxes, sections
of a large drying rack, or two sheets of poster
board taped together work well. Place all items
(with names and dates) in the designated
space. This will keep items safe and protect
artwork from getting bent until you have time
to sort through it all.
• Have a separate filing system for each child.
Using portfolios for children is a great way to
keep art and drawings, track development, hold
teacher notes, and combine photos and language
dictation. The portfolio is developed in the begin-
ning of the year and then added to throughout the
year. Ideas for portfolios include the following:
• Diaries: Include children’s language dictation,
photos, art, and written work. You could use
composition notebooks, binders, and plastic
sleeves. The diary could be a summary of
the child’s experiences and works within the
program. • Books: Art that is collected throughout the
year could be turned into a stunning art port-
folio collection for the child to take home at
the end of the year. The book could start from
the beginning of the year and showcase all the
artwork, the child’s progression, and photos
and language dictation from the child. Such
books are quite a keepsake!
• Share portfolios at conferences, and then give
them to parents at the end of the year.
Every year, parents tell me how much they love
their child’s art, and how they would love to save it
all, but there is simply so much! I surely understand
this feeling toward a child’s beloved artwork, so I
offer some suggestions to share with parents:
• Save the child’s work in a book, box, or large
bin with a lid.
• Display artwork on walls.
• Frame individual pieces.
• Make artwork into notebook covers or inserts.
• Use paintings as wrapping paper.