10 Cool Collections to make around your house

by Deb on August 17, 2009

Collecting is a fantastic way of learning interactively. Why look at pictures of flowers when you can see the real thing? Why read about what metals are used for when you can look for yourself? Why watch a show about animal habitats when you can watch them for real?

Most toddlers are fascinated by anything around them, plus for some reason they all seem to like bags. They will be quite happy to put things in bags and later take them out again, arrange them, put them back, rearrange them, share them, you get the idea. For older kids a collection is a great way to extend an interest, start a new topic, observe differences and generally connect form and function. These are just examples, if none of them appeal they could spark something else.

  1. Insects. I’d recommend doing this in a non-killing way, so either finding dead ones that aren’t too mangled or taking photos of really cool ones. That’s where the caterpillar photo that pops up in the header comes from, our garden. If you want to collect new ones, the freezer is generally accepted as a good way to kill them. Use long pins like sewing pins (you can actually buy special ones for insects) to mount them onto cardboard, with a little note about where you found them. Get inventive and make a big picture of the garden with your insects pinned on it.
  2. butterfly

  3. Rocks. If you don’t have lots of different sorts around your house and garden, here’s an excuse for a trip to the park or bush. Do they have crystals inside? Do they have different colours? Can you use them to make things?

  4. Flowers. These need to be pressed or dried to keep them. To press them, arrange them between some paper towels then pile heavy books on them. To dry them, hang them upside down in a dry, dark place like a big cupboard. You can do a similar thing to the insects, or be really inventive and use the petals as craft supplies. Glue some real flower fairies!
  5. flower

  6. Metals. Look around your house and garden and you will find all sorts of different metals doing different jobs. Alfoil, washers, jewellery (the cheap stuff!), sinkers, brass hose fittings, cutlery, you name it. You can compare things like colours, strength, and hardness. Keep them in a small divided box like a craft box or even an egg container. You could also do plastics, or woods, or any other construction type materials.

  7. metal

  8. Stars. OK, I don’t expect you to actually collect stars and even photos are a bit hard unless you have the right camera setup. But with a night of stargazing you can tell lots of differences between individual stars. Get a star map and see which ones you can identify. Learn some of the constellations and see how they move around the sky.

  9. Solids. There are so many different types of solids around in a house like powders, foam, wood, glass, plastic, stones, shells, wax. Keep slightly larger samples in containers and experiment with pouring, squashing and seeing if they change shape. Liquids are similar but messier and with more of a tendency to go off, so they should be played with then disposed of. Small jars like spice jars are great for shampoo, dishwashing liquid, shaving cream and juices.

  10. Appliances – Like stars, I don’t think you should actually collect household appliances. Although I saw someone once who had a microphone collection so I suppose someone somewhere collects beaters. But you can certainly get photos or do drawings of appliances grouped in lots of different ways. Think about how they work – you could group all the ones that get plugged in, all the ones that use batteries, all the ones that use muscle power. Or what they do – move things, make things hot, wash, …

  11. Handprints – fingerprints are a bit beyond home materials, unless you have very good dye and very steady hands. But you can have just as much fun with hand and footprints, comparing them, keeping a record over time or making things with them. Check out this store – what a cool idea!

  12. hand prints

  13. Landforms – Another photo one. And don’t think you get out of it just because you live in a city. There are still hills, creeks, rocks and beaches around. I suppose you could do constructions if you live somewhere completely nature deprived. Print the photos out and use them as backgrounds for drawings.

  14. Pens – pencils, crayons, textas, chalk, etc. I’m sure most of us have a houseful of them anyway. But how often do you use them together? Do you compare the colours on the page? The different things they will write on (apart from furniture)? How long they last? This is a great one to share as well – if you have grandparents who like giving gifts then a special pen with a fluffy feather or metallic glitter writing is simple and will be appreciated.

  15. pens

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie November 1, 2009 at 10:27 am

This has really got me thinking now. The kids tend to think in themes for a day or so and I’m always looking at ways to help them get the most out of whatever they are interested in. Making a collection (of physical items or of sightings) is a great idea and is so much more hands on than just talking about things.


Christie - Childhood 101 February 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

We love rocks at the moment and are well onto our way towards building a very interesting collection. Remarkably, display homes are a great place to pilfer pebbles from, they are all the rage with landscapers! Who would have thought!


Deb February 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm

We use rocks all the time, there are so many interesting things you can do with them. You might like the Texture Board or Sorting Stones as well. It would be nice to get different varieties or some nice smooth ones.


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