Taming the Child Collector

Big Sis, age 5, finds beauty in everything.  She also wants to collect every little thing and add it to her "collection."  When we went on a nature walk (loved my friend's distinction of hike vs. nature walk) at the local park earlier this year, I realized that my daughter would load her pockets (and stroller if allowed) with every lovely rock and stick that crossed her path if I didn't do something about it.  Yet, I didn't want to discourage her or squelch her joy in God's creation...so I found a way to reroute it.

On the drive to the park, I introduced the plan.  I explained that we could not bring anything from the park home with us, but we would still enjoy all of God's handiwork.  I suggested that if the kids found anything pretty that they wanted to remember that I would take a photograph of it.

We walked a mile.  It took us over an hour!  We stopped often to take about one hundred photographs.  (Granted about half of them were my photos...)  Big Sis and Brother both enjoyed showing off their finds to the camera and me.  (Little Sis mostly napped.)  I enjoyed being the photographer and watching the children enjoy a beautiful day.

Ever the collector, Big Sis figured out that since she could not bring any items home to add to her collection, she could still could make collections!  Together the children made a few collections to leave at the park.  Below is a collection of sticks that they put at a base of a tree.
I have to say that my plan went off without a hitch, evident in the fact that every stick, stone, leaf, and pine cone remained at the park (as it should).  We all enjoyed the late afternoon hike with the January sun shining on us that warm day.

I should find a few minutes to surprise the children with a collage of the days' findings.  But I have not done that yet.

This was our first outdoor adventure since Little Sis was born, but it was well worth it.

This idea of mine was shared in a magazine.  Read more here.


  1. Their collection at the base of a tree made me smile. Love how they still could collect, but left it for others to enjoy as well. A collage of the pics from that day would be a fantastic remembrance of the day!

  2. Oh- I have a collector too!!! We also have plans in place ahead of what needs to stay or how many shells or rocks can be collected- many teary times leaving sticks behind before we came up with "the plan"
    Never thought of photos... My daughter would love this idea!!!

    Jen N

  3. What a great idea! and horray for getting out of the house for a walk in February!! :)

  4. :D Very smart and creative, mom!!!

  5. I just can't bring myself to tell my little collector that he can't bring it home. I have drawn the line at logs in the house but, to be honest, it's so much fun to see how he arranges his collections that I don't want to miss out!

  6. This is a great idea! Would work for them to take their own pics too with their little tykes cameras. Thanks!

  7. Great idea! I have a collector too, but it spills over into trash and recycling items as well! He thinks garbage is the best! Pray for me! :-)

  8. Great idea. I love ow you're helping them explore different ways to enjoy Gods creation. Beautiful.

  9. This is such a lovely post, it made me smile, thank you. I love the collection at the base of the tree. Thanks for linking up to the Wekly Kid's Co-Op.


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