The natural curiosity of children lends itself well to collecting. They are often interested in everyday things and can see a treasure in a simple rock or seashell, which makes it easy and natural for a youngster to start a collection. It’s especially fun during vacations when there are so many treasures around to be perused, picked up and enjoyed.
The best part of collecting with the younger set is that it doesn’t have to cost much, if anything. And if you are starting to wonder what you can do when the boredom starts to set in, introduce them to a simple collection. Postcards, stamps from mail, quarters received as pocket change, rocks on vacation or sand and shells from the beach are all good starts. These are all typical collections, but if their interest goes in a different direction embrace it.
There are dozens of different things children can collect and like many of the collections mentioned here, it will be something that has to speak to the kids. Just like a collection would speak to us as adults, it’s not something that can be forced, but perhaps a little gentle guiding might give the kids a few ideas.
One of the most important things to remember is don’t expect them to collect what you like and forget about collecting Mint-in-Box. Let them play with, handle and enjoy their stuff! A box isn’t fun.
One of the easiest things to collect is character collecting. Does your youngster have a favorite super hero or TV show they love? It’s usually easy to find stuff for the character and often it can be a wide range of items, as well as a wide range of prices. It can be Star Wars, super heroes, Disney characters, and for the slightly older — perhaps even Dr. Who stuff. As the collection is started, look for inexpensive items at flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales. As a collection grows, new items can be purchased and as a collection gets even more serious, look for vintage and antique items online and at specialty auctions.
Tip: At the beginning, let the youngster buy whatever they can afford and want at garage sales or thrift store type of sales, when they get a little more serious, talk more about condition and looking for the unusual item.
Noted ornament designer Larry Fraga started collecting Christmas ornaments at the tender young age of seven. He wanted everyone to have a festive holiday and would even help the neighbors decorate. His love of Christmas continues to this day and the pictures I’ve seen of his decorations are simply amazing. If your kids are interested in collecting holiday ornaments, look at garage sales and estate sales. Take them to thrift stores to see if they can find inexpensive treasures. Check out the current year’s Hallmark store ornaments to perhaps start a series they are drawn to and every year they can add another piece to that collection.
Samantha is another young collector of holiday items, she loves nutcrackers. Her collection is small, but growing. Nutcrackers come in both traditional, whimsical and even pop-culture designs — something that could appeal to everyone.
Tip: During the holidays let them have their own small tree with their own ornaments, that they decorate themselves. You might be surprised at how well they will take care of their treasures and the upside is maybe they will start doing your decorating.
Are you planning a trip to a Disney park? Pin collecting is really fun and can be surprisingly inexpensive. Kids from elementary school age on up can get into this collection. Wear a lanyard with pins or carry a small book with pins to trade and Disney cast members will love to trade with you.
The way to keep it affordable is NOT to buy at the parks, but buy in bulk before the trip. Check out eBay for Disney pins. Then the kiddos can check them out, decide which ones they might want to keep and get the rest ready for trading. Take a thick lanyard (the ones at the park are costly) or buy a book to hold the pins before the trip. Disney Pin Collecting on the Cheap is a good start if you’re headed to one of the parks.
Tip: It’s best to specialize in the category of pins that are collected, e.g. all one character, theme or movie. Perhaps the hidden Mickey pins or special editions which are harder to find.
Postcrossing with Postcards
For many years postcard collecting has been one of the top three hobbies for collectors, Postcrossing takes it to a different level. And with their method this collection can be done from the comfort of home, perfect for those who can’t get out much or perhaps in more rural areas where cards are not readily available. First step is to find a stock of postcards from your hometown or with a theme that you enjoy. For instance some folks like to collect pictures of animals or things like waterfalls, etc. Then go to the post office and buy a few stamps that can be used to send airmail to foreign countries. Sign up at Postcrossing.com and have fun. Read more about on my recent article .. Fun Postcard Project for the Kids.
Tip: Send out just a few the first week and be prepared to wait a week or two before getting any in return, but it will be fun when it starts to happen.
The cheapest hobby of all and especially fun when taking a vacation. This collection can be fun when more beach trips will be coming up and the kids can then compare the sands and how different it can be from one beach to another. Read more about collecting and saving rocks from one of the experts in the field — Rock Collections: A Collection.
Tip: Take some extra Ziplock plastic bags and empty bottles along to store the treasures during the trip.
Let’s end with something that can add up, little but costly! LEGO Minifigures. There is quite a market for these, original and secondary. They can be fairly expensive, but also very fun for those who love LEGOs. Look for the various minifigure series that is put out by the company and find a trading partner or two when trying to define and gather sets. There is also a secondary market for customized figures, look for these at Comic Cons or even comic book stores, as well as online. And of course there is a Facebook page for those who just can’t get enough of these little guys.
Tip: There are display cases available from LEGO, but these are costly and really don’t hold very many. If you are into displaying them, find things like old printer trays and use a bit of QuakeHold to easily secure figures, yet also make them easily removable.