The Best Way to Handle No Name Work in the Art Room

As art teachers, how often do we come across a paper with no name on it? I think if we’re honest, it is much more often than we’d like.

Even with constant reminders, portfolios for each child, and name stickers for the youngest, I still wind up with a pile of nameless and homeless work by the end of each week.



Here are a few ways to rescue more work from obscurity and maybe even reunite it with its owner.

For Recently Found Pieces

  • Option 1: Create an “Artwork Lost & Found”
    Using a large file folder, create an artwork lost and found area. Make sure you display it prominently in your room. Whenever you come across a nameless piece, slide it into the folder. When a student is missing something, the folder should be the first place they check.

No Name, No Fame

  • Option 2: Display Nameless Art
    Create a spot in your room that is reserved for displaying nameless art. You’ll have no shortage of choices when you pick from your lost and found. Often, students don’t want to dig around through lots of work to find their own. However, if they see it displayed and hung with care for all to see, they are encouraged to claim it.

For Older Pieces

  • Option 1: Upcycle Unclaimed Work
    In my experience, after a while, the Lost & Found gets pretty full. If pieces have been sitting for a long time, consider recycling them into a special bin. That way, other students can repurpose the colorful drawings and scraps. My students love using the shape cutters on recycled paintings because they make great collage elements.

Missing Something Tag

  • Option 2: Have an Auction
    At the end of the year, hold an art auction where all unwanted, unclaimed, or unnamed work is sold to the highest bidder. This gives students a chance to learn about the auction process as well as allowing all the work to find a home where it is appreciated. You can use class reward points or monopoly money as the bidding currency. It is a fantastic end-of-year lesson that reinforces how important their art is to you and their peers.

Here is to hoping you find less and less nameless and abandoned art in your room!

How do you handle no name projects?

What is your most successful way of dealing with this issue?

Lee Ten Hoeve

Lee is an energetic PreK - 8th-grade art educator in an urban district. She’s passionate about making art a core subject and employing curiosity to engage learners. 


  • Deborah

    All good ideas you have given. I have had a lost art folder pinned to my classroom bulletin board. However I have discovered students are stealing the, art putting their name on it and turning it in for credit. Or stealing from my turn-in bin and changing name. Any suggestions to control that? (Middle school btw)

    • Jeanette

      As I keep their work during the whole year and we’ll have visual diarys named and labeled I can work out the art style subject etc they have been working on.. And students will dob in others if they have got the wrong work.I basically become an art detective and look at writing style etc if it is a written piece.

      • Jeanette

        Also as I have a fairly stable student population? You get to know them . Photograph their work in progress. Also unless it’s a special project nothing leaves the art room unless I make a note of it.

  • Jeanette Rengel

    At the end of the day I do a count of the work for each class bundle check all those without names and against a class list . But before they leave the room and lesson and during packing up I have helpers who check all names are on them. Also do the visual diary comparison if really stuck. My drying racks are labelled for the day with class names. So as work is completed they have to be put in their class rack. Also I print sets of labels for every class and child etc which get placed on the finished and completed work , one on the back . Or if being mounted for display then they go on the front . I find I don’t have any leftovers and all are accounted for when it comes to assessment. As we have a digital roll and marks book it tells me who is away for the lesson and easily checked.
    Hope this can help those who have this issue. Ps I work in a primary school so more easily controlled and not hidden and I do check the rubbish bin , all work shows effort even if it is not successful so the Holden know they can get good marks for trying.

  • Jeanette Rengel

    Last line should be children not Holden had predictive text sometimes