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The Junior Collector: A Cool Kids' Hobby

Suggested Activities for kids: collecting

The Junior Collector: a Cool Kids’ Hobby

Collecting isn’t only for grown-ups. Encouraging your kids to start their own collections will give them something to do that doesn’t involve staring at a TV or computer screen. It allows children to pursue their own passions, helps develop a variety of skills, and can even earn them extra pocket money.

There was a time when most children had a stamp collection. A few generations before that, collecting butterflies and insects was a popular pastime that combined open air activity with pleasurable study, and collecting and swapping cigarette cards was a big deal. Collecting is a hobby that has some old-fashioned connotations, but it can be cool too.


What to collect?

Collectibles come in many guises, and collections can be themed in a range of ways. If a child has an existing passion – perhaps for a type of doll, or Harry Potter – deciding what to collect may be easy. One treasured item can form the core of a collection. A 1950 teacup could be the beginning of a collection of china generally, items linked to tea, things made by a particular factory, or items dating from the same period. A World War I button could be part of a collection of military memorabilia or buttons.

Collecting cards is a very viable hobby for many kids these days. Whether they are Bakuran, Pokemon, hockey cards, or other such cards, children can't wait to see what they will get next, and can actually use the cards, in some cases, for games that turn out to be quite complex and involving.

If starting from scratch, the main concern for the junior collector is likely to be cost. Many things can be collected for free: shells, fossils, rocks, wild flowers, to name a few. Things that may not seem valuable – let’s say pencil sharpeners - can be picked up at car boot sales, garage sales, and charity shops for a pittance. Even the most mundane items, worth nothing on their own, can gain value as part of a collection. The most important thing is that the collector has a sustainable interest in whatever s/he decides to focus on.


The benefits of collecting

Collecting has many educational bonuses that make learning fun. Encouraging children to explore a theme in depth helps develop special types of skill, in forming questions and evaluating which directions to investigate. It contrasts with some internet learning which can focus instead on a wide range of superficial information. Many collections will give their owners a powerful sense of living history, whether that is the way human lives have changed through the years or the development of science and technology.

Organizing a collection also develops useful skills, not only order and physical tidiness. Cataloguing and classifying encourages the synthesis of different strands of information. Many collectible items have a visual appeal that may encourage children’s interest in art. Displaying a collection also encourages visual thinking. Caring for a collection may also develop practical skills if items need cleaning and restoring.

Though collecting may seem like a solitary pursuit, in the days of the internet, it offers opportunities for collectors to engage with school friends and potentially other enthusiasts all over the world. Swapping duplicates or unwanted items is a training for money management. It encourages entrepreneurial skills at the same time as building friendship networks.

Many an adult has gone on to pursue a career that began with a childhood collection. It's also not impossible for children to become knowledgeable and to stumble upon items that are worth money, though profit alone is unlikely to keep most junior collector’s interest going. Apart from keeping kids usefully busy, it may solve another parental problem – what to buy for Christmas and birthdays!



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