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June 8, 2009
'Virtual fridge' helps save homes from artwork overload

It's a common dilemma for many parents: your child bring homes scads of finger-painted pieces of construction paper, festooned with sequins and sticky thumbprints that belie what they ate for lunch that day.

You hang it on the refrigerator, too proud of them and too afraid to squash their artistic spirit to even think of pitching it in the trash.

But after a while that fridge can start to look a little, well, crowded.

So what's a parent to do?

Yahoo! experts say make a "virtual fridge."

Heather Cabot, a Yahoo! Web Life editor, said parents have several options when it comes to electronically storing their children's artwork.

Here's an e-mail Q&A session Cabot recently had with The Bee:

Q: What do you think is the best method of storing kids' artwork online?

A: I think the easiest and fastest way to preserve artwork is to just snap a photo on your digital camera and upload it to Flickr or another photo sharing site. Even technophobes can pretty easily create a photo stream and you can do it directly from your camera or Smartphone, too. Some people even put a bunch of different paintings or drawings up on a bulletin board and take a photo of a group of artwork each month ...

You can get your kids in the act by having them pose with their artwork, too and even make a short video of them describing their project and then post that on your Flickr stream ... a fun way for Grandma and Grandpa to see what (the kids) are doing in school.

Another idea is to create a screen saver or a slide show of your child's favorite artwork with the images you've uploaded. Cozi, a fairly new organizational tool for busy families, offers an application to do this. You can also create a very beautiful hard copy photo album of all of your child's artwork. How Fast They Grow offers lovely templates for layout and text.

Q: Do you think this is going to be the wave of the future? Are the days of refrigerators covered in kids' artwork a thing of the past?

A: Kids will always take special pride in seeing their creations mounted in the kitchen - even for a few days or weeks. But what I do think will eventually fall by the wayside are kitchen counters, closets, garages and attics cluttered with piles of finger painting masterpieces and clay sculptures.

Q: Do you think digitally saving kids' artwork will help alleviate the guilt parents feel about throwing those little paint splattered pieces of paper away?

A: I do think it can alleviate guilt and also save space in your home. But I am not advocating throwing away everything. There will always be special pieces you'll want to save and will cherish later on life.

Q: Do children think it's cool?

A: I think older kids will think it is cool. Not sure the preschool set will fully understand and may be upset if they know you are throwing things away.

Maybe you don't want to tell young children exactly what you're doing with the artwork and just involve them in the photo shoot and show them the Flickr stream.

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