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In this world of instant gratification and constant entertainment, so many old-school hobbies have fallen by the wayside. Remember the good old days when we didn’t have something electronic to keep our attention, so we had to use our imaginations or busy ourselves with something productive? Today’s generation of kids really don’t know what they’re missing. When was the last time you met a kid who spent hours upon hours seeking out a precious item to add to a collection? Or one who invests real time and energy into getting to know someone through written correspondence? Or what about a kid who is determined to master an intricate skill or craft? Now is the time to revive some of these classic hobbies that stir imaginations and foster a heart for learning!
1. Start a Collection
For most kids, collecting things comes naturally. Everywhere they go, they’re picking up rocks, sticks, coins, or pieces of junk (otherwise known as trash), tucking them away into every nook and cranny in your car and around your house. Checking the pockets of our kids’ pants before doing laundry is a rite of passage of motherhood. Encouraging your child to start a bona-fide collection simultaneously satisfies their urge to hoard and your desire to foster a love of learning.
Think about it: what do you really know about rocks? Or stamps? Or coins? Collecting with a purpose can change a child’s perspective of his world. Imagine all the trips to the non-fiction section of the library that are in your future as you navigate the differences between igneous and sedimentary rock, or learn about the evolution of coined money around the world.
Instead of simply admiring the beauty of a seashell, your child will learn what animal lived in each specific kind of shell. By investigating each of the many seed pods she discovers, your kid will begin to see how incredibly varied all of the plant life on earth is, and will have a clearer understanding of how plants grow.
Kids can literally collect anything. The best rule of thumb is to encourage a collection in an area to which your child is already drawn.
To further motivate a child to seek out the “holy grail” of their collection, consistently give them opportunities to research and hunt for their collectibles. If you’ve got a nature lover collecting rocks, for example, plan a couple of nature walks every month in varying locations. If you’ve got a coin or stamp lover, local pawn shops may be your new normal Saturday morning pit stop. Your munchkin infected with the wanderlust bug? Choose a collectible souvenir item to seek out on every trip!
Once he’s built a good foundation of collectibles, find clever ways for your child to display his treasures. Nothing is more exciting for a collector than showing off her prized possessions and informing anyone who’ll listen about the intricacies of each!
Bonus: For small collectibles, work a small display of your child’s finest pieces into your home decor by utilizing old tin-type trays or Coke bottle crates. Imagine how much more encouraged your child will be to add to his collection when he knows how proud you are of his finds!
Don’t have any ideas of collectibles to suggest to your kiddo? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Rocks and/or gemstones. Get her started with this awesome little guidebook for identifying and valuing rocks and minerals!
- Stamps. Your child can travel the world in his imagination with this beginners packet of over 500 stamps from all over the world!
- Coins. Spark your child’s coin collecting spirit with these State Quarter and National Parks collector maps and guides!
- Bugs. Over 900 thousand different species of insects are known to exist worldwide! With this beginner’s entomology kit, your child can display his finds.
- Squish Pennies. Did you know that those elongated pennies that can be made at every tourist spot all over the world are highly collectible? Some are even worth quite a bit more than one cent! Your child can use this penny passport to document her travels and store her collection.
- Seashells. Here’s a collectible for the child with wanderlust! Be sure to remember to pack this collection bag and waterproof identification guide on your next beach vaca.
- Comic books, sports cards, and/or gaming cards. Whether you find them new or used, your child will love scouring through comic book stores to find the books or cards he’s missing from his collection!
- Figurines. From a menagerie of crystal animals to Pez dispensers, from vintage to brand new, the possibilities are endless when it comes to collecting figurines!
- Cacti/succulents. Does your child have a green thumb? These tiny collectible plants can be displayed beautifully in your home or patio with one of these vertical hanging planters!
- Antiques. The possibilities are endless, as are the opportunities to pick! Make a regular date with your child to scour antique malls and garage sales for any number of collectible antiques.
2.Write to a Pen Pal
With the advent of texting, snapchat, and live-connected videos games, the art of written communication is going the way of the dodo bird. Remember how much fun it was as a kid to check the mailbox every day after school, waiting for the letter you knew would be addressed to you? Encouraging your child to start a pen pal relationship promises to be an experience she will carry with her for the rest of her life!
For the same reasons that reading a book with a relatable character keeps your kid’s nose buried between the pages of a novel, letters from a pen pal will open your child’s eyes to the concept that the world is a fascinating place filled with wonderfully different people whose common thread is humanity. Sometimes, the pool of potential friends within arm’s reach of your child isn’t diverse enough, or your kid can feel like the odd man out and needs a friend. Or, maybe your kid wants to learn about another culture or a distant part of the world, and how his life might’ve been different had he been born there.
A consistent pen pal offers your child a virtual passport to learn about how someone her age experiences life, and that connection will help to foster a better worldview and deeper understanding of the world in which she lives. Additionally, written correspondence requires much more time and forethought than does electronic communication. Your child will develop his communication skills and emotional intelligence by thinking outside of himself and wondering about another child’s life.
Bonus: If your kiddo has started a stamp collection, she can add the stamps from her pen pal correspondence to the collection, and she can seek out unique stamps as postage for the letters she sends!
Love this idea, but don’t know where to find a potential pen pal? Here ya go:
- One of your friends’ kids. Our own social networks are usually the safest and easiest place to start looking for a pen pal for our kids. Go through your personal friends list on Facebook or Instagram, and contact an out-of-state friend whose kid is around the same age as yours. We’re willing to bet that both mom and potential pen pal would be eager to participate! Many of us have friends on social media who live outside of our borders, too… either personally, or through a few-degrees-of-separation!
- A distant relative. Not all of us have the ability to drive across town to visit Grandma or our cousins. What better way to strengthen the family bond than to frequently write to each other? A pen pal need not be of the same age! Imagine how much a grandparent would enjoy receiving regular correspondence from the grandchild she only sees once a year? Or how much more fun reunions will be for a pair of cousins that have been communicating on a weekly basis?
- An American soldier. Through programs like AnySoldier.com, your family can send care packages and letters to an American soldier who rarely or never receives mail from home. Or you might personally know a soldier, or through your network of friends on social media, you can locate a specific soldier who would love a pen pal. Writing to a soldier not only encourages your child to strengthen his writing skills, but gives him the opportunity to lift up someone who is making a sacrifice for our country. As the friendship grows, your child can get his classmates involved as well, sending care packages, or linking up his classmates with other soldiers through his pen pal!
- Missionaries. Many churches support missionary groups all over the world; your child could write to one of the missionaries that your church sends abroad, or possibly one of the children from the community in which the missionaries are working. What better way to grasp the purpose behind the ministry than to have fellowship from across the world? Ask your pastor for contact information with a missionary your church supports.
3. Start a Skill-Based Hobby
While video games do enhance hand-eye coordination to some degree, too much screen time can be bad for the eyes and detrimental to the imagination. Consider one of the throw-back hobbies from your childhood: most of what we did as kids required hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, not to mention patience and diligence. Doesn’t that sound like a win-win? Many such hobbies are easily accessible for beginners, and over time, as your child develops and hones his skill, can lead to a true outlet for creativity.
Bonus: If your child picks up a hobby such as calligraphy, she can practice honing her skill in her letters to her pen pal. And when your kiddo begins to master a skilled hobby, there are sure to be beautifully-made products of her industriousness! Potential business, anyone?
Need an idea of how to get those little fingers to work? We’ve got you covered:
- Model building. For the true beginner, start with a snap-together kit that doesn’t require glue or paint, then gradually move up to more complex models that allow the builder to customize the project with his own paint scheme.
- Wood whittling. No rocking chair on a porch required for this age-old hobby! All you’ll need to get your kid on the path to whittlin’ is a handy beginner’s kit with several simple projects and all of the instructions and materials he’ll need (the carving knife is sold separately)!
- Cross stitching. Start out simple, learning the basic stitches, with one of these beginner’s kits, then eventually move into creating large, highly detailed works of art!
- Knitting/crocheting. Learn the fundamentals with this all-inclusive kit that has all your child needs to complete several projects. Once she’s mastered these patterns, nothing can stop her from creating blankets, scarves, and socks galore!
- Calligraphy. Nothing hones fine motor skills quite like handwriting, and what more beautiful way is there to write than in calligraphy? With this elegant guide to beginner’s calligraphy, your kid can learn all about the pens, angles, and techniques involved in creating this artistic lettering.
- Macrame. Don’t even pretend that you didn’t make a macrame plant hanger while away at summer camp, or that you didn’t have about 200 plastic keychains that you tediously made as a child. How could our generation possibly deny this one the awesomeness that is macrame? Bonus: Gift your child this macrame hanging terrarium kit so that she can create a home for one of the succulents in her new collection!
- Leather crafting. Allowing your child to design to his heart’s content, this beginner’s kit includes an instructional DVD, plus all of the materials needed to create several leather projects.
With a little encouragement, your child can easily pick up any of these old-school hobbies, and his or her imagination and love of learning will grow by leaps and bounds! Plus, you can get all nostalgic and share in the fun!
Photo credits: Cindy Haley