Growing up, my sisters & I spent hours and hours entertaining ourselves & each other with our hobbies & collections. From designing paper-dolls, riding bikes, coloring, reading, bird-watching, playing games of all kinds, and staging plays accompanied with a recorder and/or guitar to sewing doll clothes & our own clothes, collecting comic books, 45 rpm records & troll dolls. Yes, we were very busy with our hobbies & collectables.
Unless the weather was uncooperative, we spent most of our days outside engaged in pretend play, games & sports. We gathered leaves, rocks, feathers, seeds, nuts, & even, berries. Indoor activities usually centered around music, scissors, glue, coloring tools & paper. Screen time was pretty much non-existent. There were years without having a television at all. Yes, OMG, I am that old!!!
As an adult I find my hobbies & collections soothing & very rewarding. Of course, now, I cut out recipes, gardening tips & crafting ideas. Still collect rocks, though, as well as seeds, nuts, berries, and seashells, which are part of my crafting materials.
My home school toddlers & pre-schoolers, especially my son, were fascinated with rocks and, even, discovered some fossils in our backyard. Outdoor cooking with sticks, leaves, seeds, rocks & dirt was an everyday activity. Indoor play always included a variety of structure-building projects (duplos/legos, lincoln logs, tinkertoys, wooden blocks), drawing, pretend play, games, puzzles, & reading. Screen time was limited to the end of the day while waiting for parent pick-up. PBS programing was the only station I turned on. They only sat still for Mr. Rogers and occasional, 2 minute snippets of Sesame Street. Free play was encouraged, so they were very busy.
There are NUMEROUS ways to encourage your child’s interest in hobbies & collections. Basically, your observations will provide you with the insights needed to zero in on your child’s interests. You can, also, :
- Offer a variety of differentiated activities for trial & error opportunities
- Talk to care-givers, friends/relatives & teachers for “hidden” talents
- Give several choices you feel might fit your child’s interests
- Build on skills your child already has for a successful “launch”
- Provide adequate materials, equipment &/or space (without breaking the bank, of course)
My web research took me to several sites that analyzed & listed a great variety of possibilities. I combined these 2 sources : wehavekids.com & altiusdirectory as well as added my own thoughts (surprise!) to provide you a list of choices I hope you & your family can use.
Arts & Crafts
In all my years as an educator, I never met a child who did not enjoy an activity using paper, colors, glue & scissors. Messy, yes, at times, but well worth the fine motor skills development, self-control growth & sense of accomplishment as well as the perks from the creativity, exploration & discovery processes. Some ideas are:
- Drawing & Coloring: paints, chalk, crayons, pencils on a variety of papers
- Paper: make your own, origami, card-making, collages, book marks, weaving, pictures, murals, sculptures, flowers, mobiles, puzzle & game-making
- Sculptures: clay, paper-mache, animals, flowers, wire
- Models: paper, wooden, plastic
- Scrap-booking: story-telling, drawing, photography, papers, stickers
- Photography: camera, phone
- Jewelry: necklaces, earrings, bracelets, barrettes & headbands
- Floral designs & arrangements: silks, paper & real
Playing outside should NOT be an option – it’s as necessary as healthy foods, effective hygiene habits & a good night’s sleep. I can tell you my experiences with children of all ages ALWAYS included being outside EVERYDAY! Run & jump into some of these:
- Nature Walks: hike & bike trails, neighborhood Greenbelts, arboretums, parks
- Sky Watches: Night stars, planets & moon; Day sunrises, sunsets, clouds, weather
- Rides: trains, buses, trolleys
- Museum & Zoo Visits
- Play-scapes & Playgrounds
- Bicycle & Scooter Riding
- Back & Front Yard Play: hopscotch, jump-rope, jacks, marbles, informal ball games, Simon-Says, etc
Having fun while learning & developing cognitive skills is such a win-win. Try some of these on for size:
- Puzzles: jigsaw, word, math, block, visual search, memory/concentration
- Games: Jenga, Mastermind, Boggle, Operation, Clue, Scrabble, Chinese Checkers, Parcheesi, Life, Chess
- Building Structures: Duplos, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, K’Nex
- Reading: books, magazines, comics
- Languages: learn a new one..or two in song, poetry, games & everyday expressions
Assigning chores is another NON-OPTIONAL family activity. One or two people should not be responsible for what others should be sharing in. This valuable teaching tool may start out as fun (Mommy & Daddy Helper), but, soon, becomes a drudge & argument fodder. Oh well~ growing can be painful and yes, they will thank you later~I promise. They promote security, confidence, responsibility, cooperation, reasoning, and belonging. Here are some fun & not-so-fun everyday jobs that need to be done~room-by-room:
- Kitchen: cooking, baking, table-setting, serving, wash/dry,sweep, grocery maintenance (shopping, carry in, put away)
- Family rooms: dust, sweep, vacuum, put away stuff
- Laundry: sort, fold, put away
- Bathroom: swish, wipe down, hang up wet stuff, bath toys
- Yard work: pre-mow pick up, weed, lay mulch in beds, water
Does you child sing in front of the mirror, using a toothbrush for a microphone? Dance instead of walk? Watch favorite movie musicals over & over? Know the lines & songs by heart? Loves to perform plays & puppet shows? Can’t wait to share magic tricks or jokes? Sounds like you have a budding entertainer on your hands. If s/he is just having fun, you can encourage his/her talents at home. However, if you notice a serious “devotion” developing, it may be time for private lessons or local arts council classes. Some of these “acts” may be on the home – stage, destined for stardom:
- Dance: ballet, tap, jazz, folk, free-form
- Voice: pop, stage, choir
- Acting/Role-Play: comedy, drama, recitation
- Instruments: percussion, string, brass
- Staging Plays: puppetry, toys, live-action, stand-up
- Magic: tricks, illusions
Organized sports have multiple & far-reaching benefits for a growing child ~ if that is an interest. It teaches endurance, patience, cooperation, coordination & following directions. Even if your child doesn’t particularly enjoy team sports, but is physically-active & even driven, try enrolling her/him in some of these “Olympics”:
Some of your child’s toys~ dolls, cars, trucks, animals, builders~ and books~ readers, chapter books, joke books, picture books, read-to-me~ are probably already gathered in a collection format. Some collections may come and go. Some are considered lifetime keepsakes and very valuable ~ think dolls, comics, sports cards. Display & safe-keeping can be necessities when your collector collects. Here are some “group” suggestions:
- Nature: leaves, rocks, seeds, seashells
- Cards: sports, superheroes, trivia, performers
- Toys: dolls, action figures, vehicles, plush
- Stickers: varieties placed in specific book collections
- Coins & Stamps
- Books: comics, poetry, fantasy, fairy tales, mysteries, specific nonfiction topic, series, authors
Creative Child.com has a great article : “The Benefits of Hobbies for Children and Where to Begin”:
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