Collections are a big part of our family life. We can't take a walk without filling our arms and pockets with rocks and sticks. When we bring those rocks home, we arrange them in egg cartons with the other rocks we've collected in past trips. Egg carton are great containers for collections. They have built in slots for organizing and closing the lids allows them to be stacked among other collections. If you use the cardboard cartons, you can label the contents of each cup by writing directly on the carton. We have boxes with egg cartons stored safely away in our attic waiting to be taken out and arranged yet again.
What good is a collection when all we do is store it in the attic, you say? Well, our collections make their appearances regularly in the boys' museums. The boys own the bottom two shelves of a built-in bookshelf in our living room. I cut a large piece of foam-core into two halves and pasted it into the back of the book shelf on each of their shelves. The boys place their current collection in their museum and they can pin hand-made posters, note cards or signs on the foam-core background. We rotate displays regularly so that no one collection is in storage for too long.
As I already mentioned, we have a lot of collections. For a while, our youngest son had a green collection. He collected anything green that would fit in his egg carton. We have lots of rock collections. Some are organized according to where we found them. We have the “Little Buffalo Rock Collection” which we've collected at the nearby state park. We have a green rock collection, all the rocks are a shade of green. Guess who started that collection? We spent a winter with a rock tumbler and now have a nicely sorted collection of polished rocks in one of those egg cartons. We collect fossils, too. Some of our special rocks come from special locations. We try to bring a rock home from every new camp ground or state park we visit. Often we label these rocks with permanent marker listing the location in which we found the rock. This past summer we spent a week in Northern Minnesota. As the boys rose up out of the same lake in which their Daddy had swam as a child, our youngest son was carring two rocks as big as his head. Those rocks proudly sit on our fireplace hearth. We wrote, “Walker Lake, MN July 2007” in black ink on each rock.
We collect stamps. We have a few books that we've picked up at thrift stores and yard sales in which we place our stamps. Our collection began with a free packet from Mystic Stamp Company. From there a missionary friend began funneling all of her foreign stamps to us. We even came across a stamp collecting booth at our homeschool convention last Spring. They allowed each of the boys to fill a sandwich bag with stamps to take home and add to their collection.
I currently have a collection of bird nests in my museum shelf. Each year when my husband and the boys go to deer camp for “work weekend” they clean out the gutters and bring me home a bird nest. I have four on my shelf. There is currently an empty nest on the ledge of our screened-in porch that I need to add to my collection.
We collect coins. The boys each have a book for the state quarters. We picked up a few collection books at a thrift store and have added some nickels and pennies to those. We also have a book for collecting Sacajewea dollars.
Each of the children has a special toy collection. Our oldest is a lego fanatic. Maybe for his next museum display he could build a bunch of things. Our youngest is a softie for every stuffed animal that comes along. And both boys call their large tub of action figures their “collection.”
For my husband, he loves a good baseball hat. He also has a collection of the deer antlers from those taken in Pennsylvania.
For me, I collect various books. I pick up anything by Grace Livingston Hill. My goal is to have one of each of her more-than-90 titles in hard-back and soft-cover. I also love the little hard-back children's books by Beatrix Potter that were published by Frederick Warne and Co. Ever since my dad, at age 62, went back to school to become and EMT and then later was hired by Hershey to work in their first aid department I've been collecting Hershey tins. Bought new, they come filled with Hershey's chocolates. But there are many different themes for the tins and I enjoy this collection, especially since it reminds me of my dad and how proud I am of his accomplishments.
Since it's Christmastime, I have replaced some of my regular collections with my Christmas collections. I have six nativities. One was made by my Uncle who died a few years ago of lukemia. Another belonged to my grandmother at one time. I also have a collection of nested santa dolls that I collected before I was married.
Of all our collections, however, our youngest son has one that I'm sure will surprise you. I just ran across his collection when I was taking inventory of the freezer recently. My son has a crust collection. Yes, you read that correctly, he collects crusts. I don't know how this collection began. But I remember visits to a new restaurant when our little guy would say, “I don't think I have a crust from this place!” And his bread, roll, or pizza crust would be carefully wrapped in a napkin and placed in my purse. When we returned home, the crust was unwrapped and placed in a freezer bag with other crusts from the collection. He even had our neice bring him a bread crust from Brussels, Belgium! It's an unusual collection to be sure. So, in the deep recesses of our freezer there is a large plastic bag marked “crust collection.” It had to be marked so that I don't mistake it for bread I save to make bread crumbs.
Our collections are important. They help us to learn about cataloging and organizing. We learn science and methods of science by looking up proper names for rocks and sticks. We learn about history and managing historical artifacts the way a museum does. Our collections are our treasures. They are our free “prizes” from walks and trips to the local park. When we add to our collections, we are adding to our knowledge. It is a practice that helps us to make learning a lifestyle. So what do you collect?