There comes a time in every artist’s life when she has to answer one of the biggest questions of her art career: “Where am I going to store all this artwork?” Multiply that question by 500, add a few exclamation points, and you will have some idea of where I was at, as I tried to solve an art storage problem that we have all faced at one point or another.
When I first started teaching, my drying rack was small, bent, and better at holding my coat than holding student artwork. As I surveyed my lesson plans, I realized this rack just wouldn’t be sufficient to hold the artwork made by my students on a daily basis. After several phone calls, a miracle presented itself, and I managed to find a drying rack that met my needs as far as wet artwork goes. Hallelujah! The question then became how to organize the large piles of dry artwork I had for each class.
My solution was table folders.
My table folders are created from two 12″ x 18″ pieces of construction paper that have been taped together and laminated. Each grade level gets a different color folder to help keep them separate and organized. The front of each folder gets labeled with the grade level, the classroom teacher’s name, and which art room table the folder belongs to. I have three folders per class, but of course, you can decide what will work for you.
Table folders can be utilized at the beginning and end of class depending on where your students are at with a project. At the beginning of class, I pass out the folders to the correct tables and students find their work. This method is much faster than calling out names one by one or having a pack of excited children hovering over your art storage space like locusts.
This operation works well in reverse, too. During clean-up, the assigned “leaders” of the week are responsible for getting the folders from the cabinet, collecting the artwork that belongs in the folders, and putting everything back in its place. No fussing, no rushing the cabinets, just pure and simple organization.
You can store the folders in a variety of ways. If you find yourself lacking shelves like I was, try creating some of your own from copy paper box lids. All you need to do is tear one small side of each lid and stack them on top of each other. This not only helps keep the folders orderly but it also helps every class to stay organized.
We all know that the school year will bring us mounds of artwork to organize and store. Hopefully, with solutions like table folders, you won’t find yourself buried underneath a pile of artwork before we even make it to September.
How do you keep track of all the artwork in your classroom?
Do you have another genius solution for us? Feel free to post a photo in the comments section!
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.