THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION BOX

I’ve been doing an informal survey with friends, asking them to rate the most popular kids’ collectibles accumulating in their homes. The results?

Rocks rock!

Rocks were No. 1, followed by shells at a close No. 2 position. Leaves, sticks and pine cones trailed, tying for third place. Surprisingly, none of the top picks were toys, CDs or collectible trinkets from a fast-food kids’ meal.

Kids not only instinctively collect nature finds when they are outdoors, but they also love to tuck them away in special places like jacket pockets, egg cartons and empty shoe boxes.

Here’s a practical idea for storing and displaying growing collections all year round. Pick up a hardware storage box with rows of plastic drawers that slide in and out of the front side and are intended for screws, bolts and nails. Find a used box at a garage sale, or buy a new one at a hardware store — a nice gift idea for your collector’s summer birthday.

If you find a used box, spiff it up by covering the outside with colorful adhesive-backed paper. Glue travel stickers or postcards on the outside to decorate it.

To help your child categorize the drawers, use a paint pen to write the name of the contents. For example: Leaf Collection, Rock Collection, Bark Collection, etc.

Introduce your child to new collections, too. At a beach, fill a small plastic canister with sand. Label it with the name of the beach. Collect more as you travel, and store the bottles in the “sand collection” drawer when you return home.

Extra ideas:
–If your collection box has large drawers on the bottom, make mini dioramas with souvenirs. Glue a photo or postcard on the back of the drawer for a background, then glue small items to create a mini scene on the base of the drawer.
–To cover the drawers when not in use, tape a large piece of cardboard the size of the front of the box along the base of the box to resemble a hinged flap that
opens and closes. Poke a hole at the top of the cardboard so that you can loop a ribbon and bead through it and tie to a handle to keep it shut.

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