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The Arts in the Everyday
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Posted: Nov 07 2007 at 12:09pm | IP Logged Quote almamater

I would like to know your thoughts on a daily paper allowance for children. When I worked in a Montessori classroom of 25-30 three to six year old children, each day I was to put out a certain (very limited) number of each type of paper (drawing paper, painting paper, etc) Once it was gone, there was no more for the day. Period. Everyone knew the rule and accepted it.

I am wondering if something like this would be appropriate for the home. I watch my children creating and go rather carelessly through one sheet after another. Perhaps one is creating a "purse" with paper, tape and staples and may use 5-6 sheets of paper, leave the whole thing abandoned on the floor and eventually it lands in the garbage/recycling bin. *sigh*

It isn't so much a cost issue as my dh brings huge stacks of papers that have been used on one side home from his workplace and we reuse it before recycling it and construction paper can be purchased pretty inexpensively with a coupon at the craft shop. I guess it is more the thoughtlessness with which it is used. My son and daughter have been going thru a paper airplane phase (again) and make plane after plane after plane, throwing each one only once or twice before discarding and going on to a new technique. They might make 30 or more each day and have no interest in re-using or saving those! The fun is in the process of the design.

I don't want to inhibit anyone's creativity, so maybe rationing paper is too strict. It does seem rather modern and frivolous, though, to think we can just use a new piece of paper for every new thought.

Any thoughts or experiences you can share would be appreciated.

~jennifer in tx
mommy of ds(11),dd(8),dd(6), dd(3),& ds (6/08)
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Posted: Nov 07 2007 at 12:42pm | IP Logged Quote LLMom


I know exactly what you mean and many days I feel like I am walking in a sea of paper. I haven't come up with a perfect solution, but we have tried several things. One thing I did for those special things they want to draw (and keep) is to buy them a spiraled drawing book. Althought it is more expensive, we don't have as many papers lying around and I tell them that once its filled, it won't automatically be replaced so they are careful as to what they put in it. The other thing I have done is to pile them all in a box and every so often they go through them and keep 3 favorites and give away (to someone other than those living in our house ) as many as they want. The rest get recycled. We have talked about waste; about just scratching a few lines and tossing it. It really hasn't helped that much, but I figure I will keep bringing that point up and maybe it will stick. I do limit to a certain number of pages per day.(with 5 children who draw almost everyday, I have to) They do sometimes whine, but I think it is fair because I am a happier mom when I am not surrounded by paper. I have also given them a write on board, magnetic write on board and/or a chalkboard to use. OF course they don't like it as much but its an option when mom can't stand any more paper around! I also make them use both sides of the paper. I don't think you will stifle their creativity if you limit their paper. We really have so much compared to so many in the past that our children can learn to do without sometimes and maybe they will appreciate it all the more.

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Lori B
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Posted: Nov 08 2007 at 6:09pm | IP Logged Quote Lori B

My kids have unlimited access to the 'scrap paper' pile (dh brings it home from work, printed on one side), but they have to ask permission to use the watercolour and other special papers. They each have at least one sketch book as well, and that reduces the ammount of paper clutter we have to deal with.

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Kristie 4
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Posted: Nov 08 2007 at 9:24pm | IP Logged Quote Kristie 4

I finally got my avid artist, dd10, started on a sketch book and this has worked wonders. (Also helps keep her great stuff together, as I always heartached at recycling it!).

My 4yos, that is another story He is on a similar drawing kit, and goes through up to 15 pages a day lately!

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Posted: Nov 08 2007 at 11:49pm | IP Logged Quote Chari

We work it the same as Lori, though I let them use computer paper or drawing paper for real drawing practice.

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Dh Marty 27yrs...3 lovely maidens: Anne 24, Sarah 20 & Maddelyn 17 and 3 chivalrous sons: Matthew 22, Garrett 16 & Malachy 11
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Posted: Nov 09 2007 at 6:46pm | IP Logged Quote helene

I keep our paper in a box on top of the fridge so it is out of reach. They have to ask for a piece. I never say no. But having to ask for a piece and having to have the patience to wait for a piece slows the paper trail quite a bit. If they are not in earnest about making a project or creating a drawing, they won't bother.

Happy Mom to five girls (20,17,13,11and 4) and five boys (19, 15, 10, 8 and 6)
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