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Monday, February 25, 2013

{monday mission} start a collection

Building a collection is such a great activity to work on individually and as a family. We have enjoyed working on various collections over the years and have learned so much as they often spur new directions in our explorations. Here are a three ideas that have helped us in our collection of collections.

my tiniest collection - 3 woodpecker feathers

1. A collection can be of anything. 

we currently have collections of:

bottle caps
smashed pennies from our travels
seed pods
my little pony figurines
restaurant crayons (?)
golden books
dolls and doll clothes
sugar cubes from around the world

my feather collection is stuck in one of my found birds nests

2. Offer ways of both storage and display.

A collection can easily become a junk pile if it does not have a useful way to be both stored and displayed. We often keep our collections in tin and cigar boxes, plastic bins, shoe boxes, entire drawers and tote bags.

For display, think creatively. I like a series of glass fish bowls, a hanging banner or even a temporary table surface. Old letter press trays can be found at antique store rather cheap. Shadow boxes from the craft store can be painted or stained in any creative way.

Ask your kids to make a museum or dinner centerpiece with their collection. And invite people to come over and share their collections or just enjoy yours. It is fun to bring things out of storage to enjoy.

some collections are temporary

3. Allow collections to have a life cycle.

Meaning, sometimes a collection might be short lived (like the one we had of silly bands). This is especially true of environmental collections you might make when spending a day at the beach or in the woods. Above, is a collection of interesting found objects my kids found when exploring an old windmill well. They set up a display, invited us over to look at it and then left it for the next hiker.

It is important to let kids take charge of their collections on their own. There is no easier way to kill a kid's interest and passion than by trying to take control of the project by demanding limiting perimeters or even by being overly enthusiastic.

When we took our daughter, a budding philatelist, to a local stamp shop to meet the owner, it was nearly soul crushing. Instead of encouraging her novice enthusiam, he immediately started explaining how she needed to focus her collection on only one country and should invest in a particular $100 album. There was no room for her interest or discovery. Thankfully, we all agreed his restrictions were unreasonable for the type of stamp collecting she was interested in.

4. Take the time to look at other collections.

We love checking out other people's and institution's collections. Antique stores, yard sales, conventions, trade shows, car shows, museums and visitor centers are all great places to get inspired by what inspires others.

We have enjoyed collections of citrus labels, Coca Cola memorabilia, gems and rocks, cigar bands, local shells, pins, marbles, doll furniture, historic costumes, old cars and more.

It is always invigorating to be around enthusiasts and learn what intrigues them about their area of speciality and passion. Because, in the end, we are not only learning about a new subject matter, we are also learning about how to craft an engaged and curiosity driven life.

In the comments, share with us about your collections...

Want to work with me in boosting your family's creativity? 
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  1. Love this! We adore collecting and it seems to come so naturally to children. Every time they come inside we get to empty pockets and see what treasures they have discovered.

  2. My kids love to collect things. Sometime I get overwhelmed by it all, thank you for the creative display and temporary collection ideas :-)

  3. I have three collectors in my home. Well five truly. How do you keep some of the collections from overtaking the house. My daughter is a collector extraordinaire.

    1. that is hard! luckily my kids outgrew most of the collections of not-so-good stuff.

      i am trying to promote quality over quantity - but we have a lot of stuff too.

      oh, and i am trying to model that a collection does not have to be forever. we can gift things to others when we are done with them. i have been getting rid of so many books and other stuff in my attempt to lighten my load by half. i am hoping by seeing that they are inspired to not hoard.


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