‘Tis the Season: Inspire A Child’s Curiosity

What did you collect, as a child?  Rocks, stamps, dolls?  Bugs?

A child’s natural curiosity lends itself to collecting things. This is a great time of year to help a child start a collection.  You can kick off the collection by giving the first item as a Christmas or Chanukah gift.   Or, make it an adventure!

Take advantage of the extra time you are able to spend with your grandchildren during the holiday season – whether they’re preschool age or on school vacation – and together explore possible items to collect.  You and your grands can take time out of the holiday craziness and visit a library, antique store or museum and make a list of possibilities. You can even search the internet for more ideas and information.

Endless Ideas for Collections

For a child, there are lots of items that are far more fun to collect than the traditional coins and stamps.  Consider these:

antique toys; rocks; leaves; old children’s books or books on a special subject of interest; baseball cards; old photographs; snow globes; small jewelry boxes; lunch boxes; holiday items; anything to do with cats, dogs, turtles; different kinds of kites or toy airplanes.

Visit this Smithsonian website to jump start your (and your grand’s) list of things to collect:

http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/students/smithsonian_kids_collecting/main.html

Two Kinds of Collections

1.  You can gift them with items for a Keepsake Collection, such as annual Christmas tree ornaments. The best part of this collection? When each grandchild is grown, there will be a collection of  individual Christmas tree ornaments to decorate their own holiday trees.

This is the third Christmas that I have selected a special ornament for each grandchild based on his or her interest and activities over the past year.  My 6 ½ year old granddaughter has been intrigued by butterflies, so I found a cute glass one to give her. Last year, it was a polar bear ornament, as she was very fond of polar bears then. For the second year in a row, my grandsons are getting ornaments with wheels!  Last year, it was airplanes and cars. This year it’s a small, vintage-type metal car and truck for each. One’s also getting a seal ornament, as that is his favorite animal of the moment.

I’ve also purchased special ‘First Christmas’ or baby ornaments as well as bread dough Santa Claus and gingerbread house ornaments and had their names and year handwritten on each at the store. Otherwise, I label each ornament with the child’s name and the year.

The Christmas Tree Ornament Collection will be a unique history of each of grandchild’s individuality and changing interests, hobbies and activities throughout their childhood years.

2. The Grandparent Inspired Collection is one you help start, then guide, as your grandchild takes a more active role in developing the collection.  A special birthday or holiday outing to find additions to the collection can be a special time just for the two of you.

Collections are Fun and Learning Experiences

A child’s collection is fun, because it is special to that child.  And, the collection can teach on several levels.  First (and depending on what the item is), children can use the collection to learn about other cultures or nature; the history of the individual item; or even other countries. As an example of the latter, how about post cards from around the world?  Go to this website for an interesting twist on a collection: http://www.postcrossing.com/

Next, there are many school readiness skills acquired by working with, and caring for, the collection.

By counting, sorting, labeling and organizing the items, your grandchild is learning and using math skills and increasing his or her vocabulary. By using books from the library or finding information online, children are reading and learning how to research a subject that interests them.

Lastly, if the child is saving money to make additional purchases for the collection, it’s money management lessons learned and then there’s also responsibility…how to care for his or her treasures.

Collections Tell A Story

Each item has its own ‘story’ of when, where and how the child acquired the item in the collection.  And, there’s also the description or history of the item itself.  A gift about the item or its history would be a wonderful addition to any collection.

Caring for A Collection

You can talk to your grand about caring for his/her collection and search for specific information, if needed, about how to do so.  You can help further by providing a storage container or display box or case.

This is a great time to start a child’s collection.  Just use your  grand’s current interests, hobbies, sports, musical instrument or a recent trip he or she took for ideas.  No matter how young or old, collections will be fun for both of you…and they don’t have to be costly to be treasured!

For lots more information on children and collecting, here are two great websites:

http://collectibles.about.com/od/kidsandcollecting/tp/collectionsforkids.htm

http://antiques.about.com/od/buyingandsellingantiques/a/aa042601.htm

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