Depending upon a child's age and stage of development, expressions of childhood are constantly changing. As my own children move through their stages of development, there are many stages that I wish would never end. One expression of childhood that is in the forefront of my mind is collections. Creating and acquiring collections provide opportunities for imagination, mathematical skills (sorting and counting), sense of accomplishment, independence, creativity and sensory motor development. Each of our four children have collections which change all the time. Some have "indoor collections" of trading cards, stuffed animals, lip gloss and toy animals. Others have "outdoors collections" of rocks, walking sticks and worms (not sure if they are still alive though).
Each of these collections offer my children wonderful developmental experiences. The trading card collection is all artist trading cards that they created themselves. Miniature works of art that are numbered and dated. Their fine motor skills shine in these cards as they improve over time. The plastic toy animal collection provides amazing grading of movement control to get them all to stand up without knocking over the walls of a zoo created with wooden blocks. Even stuffed animals (although we have way too many of them) offer different tactile stimulation, proprioceptive input and an imaginary friend.
The outdoor collections provide physical activity - hikes for special rocks, walking sticks, crutches or canes (whatever they find in the woods at the time) and worm handling. Not for the faint at heart, worm handling can easily result in sensory overload but offers opportunities for environmental exploration, sensory input and emotional attachment. Don't forget all that muscle strengthening involved in digging for worms, climbing for special rocks and walking on uneven terrain with the walking sticks.
One outdoor collection of sticks turned into a clubhouse facilitating creativity, imagination, building skills and pride.
There are also collections that have been inadvertently collected - crayon stubs, dried up markers, sidewalk chalk dust, bicycles (we have 4 kids and somehow at least 8 bicycles in our garage), balls, piles of school artwork or special projects and more. One day, I am sure my husband and I will look back and miss tripping over, picking up and even throwing out some of these collections.
To most these collections are worth no monetary value. To my children's development and our family's memories they are priceless.
What is your interpretation of childhood expressions? Why not post a writing piece in the Childhood Expressions on Child Development Blog Carnival over at Therextras?