Hobbies & Collections: Promoting Creativity & Discovery

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

Outdoor Activities

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
  • Gardening
  • 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

Brain Sharpeners

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
  • Mazes
  • 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

Life Skills

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

Performance Arts

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”:

  • Swim
  • Gymnastics
  • Taekwondo
  • Track
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • T-ball/baseball
  • Basketball
  • Ping-pong


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

Confused? Overwhelmed?

Creative Child.com has a great article : “The Benefits of Hobbies for Children and Where to Begin”:



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