It can be a challenge to find ways to keep your kids interested in their education when they’re at home. You can sit down with them with their textbooks to make sure they’re learning the state capitols and famous figures, but there are a number of ways you can get them interested in those topics on their own. Hobbies offer many opportunities to keep your child’s interest in activities that also have solid educational value. Collecting is just one of the many creative ways to introduce your children to school subjects without giving them homework.
Coin collecting is one of the easiest hobbies for a beginner to start, and with the bevy of coinage available, it can be one of the most educational. Since they offer nice rounded numbers, coins (or at least drawings of coins) are one of the most common problems your child will find in their math textbooks, but U.S. coins offer lessons in a number of subjects.
If you’ve gotten change anytime in the last few years, you are probably familiar with the 50 State quarters from the U.S. Mint. The state quarters can provide history lessons including important events and dates, as well as introducing six U.S. territories. There are a number of state quarter collecting supplies that include maps to display each coin, helping teach geography and showing how the country grew from the original 13 colonies.
Rock and Gem Collecting
Collecting rocks and gems may seem like a boring –yet shiny—hobby, but it can be an excellent pursuit for your kids, even if they don’t become geologists right off the bat. The simplicity of this collection will make it very attractive to you and your children. While the collection may range from stones worn smooth in the local river to a beautiful quartz crystal, stones and gems offer a ton of learning opportunities for you and your child.
That smooth river stone will let you explain how erosion works over time and how rivers can change landscapes over centuries. That pretty amethyst or dark obsidian is a great chance to discuss how pressure and time can create different gemstones. Gem collecting can be a highly personal and rewarding activity for your child, since they’ll collect things that they have found on their own and find interesting. If you’ve got an amateur gem hunter in your house, get ready for a lot of dirty hands and interesting questions!
Postal stamps are another great way to teach the history of the country and world. Collectible stamps cover everything from pop culture icons like Elvis to important historical events like the Civil War and World War II. Stamps are a great way to introduce these historical events and even more abstract ideas like inflation, which they’ll see as the price of stamps rises throughout the years. Stamp collecting is also incredibly easy to get begin. You can take a trip to your local Post Office to buy a sheet of current specialty stamps or there are plenty of places that will sell used stamps by the bag. Used stamps will be less valuable for a long-time collector, since they will have a postmark on them, but they are a great way to get started.
If you and your family take a trip to Washington, D.C., the National Postal Museum has a store that is full of great supplies and bags of stamps that you can purchase.
One of the biggest bonuses of any collection is that it teaches your child organization and responsibility two of the most important things for anyone to learn. While pins might not have the most apparent educational benefit, they do have an important attribute – they’re fun to collect! Nearly any place that your family will visit on vacation will have a number of pins or magnets to collect, a collection that will grow every passing summer.
If you and your child are feeling adventurous, you can contact the Chamber of Commerce or tourism boards of cities around the country and ask them to send a pin or other memorabilia to your child. Many cities will have small promotional items that they are happy to mail to inquisitive students. This will help teach how to write to businesses, another valuable life skill.
There are plenty of hobbies and collections that you can get your student hooked on to help them during the school year, so get out there and help them start collecting!
Mike Cushing is a freelance writer for Whitman Publishing, the leading publisher for coin collecting supplies, including National Park quarters. He is an avid collector of old baseball cards and vintage sci-fi books.