A great way to get kids interested in history is to introduce them to collecting. Kids are already natural collectors; they love the satisfaction that comes from searching for something and finding it, and they love to organize and keep track of what belongs to them. Collecting historical objects, like challenge coins, can develop a child’s curiosity by giving them a tangible way to connect with the past.
Kids will start to understand historical events not as words on the page of a textbook, but as real experiences that affected the lives of many people, even kids like them. Collecting can also teach children about difficult concepts like value, investment, and saving for the future. Perhaps best of all, collecting can keep kids busy and entertained far longer than a conventional toy (and for less money), so parents will reap the benefits as well!
So, what to collect? Since old war uniforms and expensive artwork are out of the question, it’s best to look for something small, inexpensive, and kid-friendly, without losing any historical significance. Fortunately, there are some great options that won’t break the bank.
Children already love to play with figurines, so why not help them collect toy soldiers and replicas from the Civil War? Once they start reenacting famous battles on their bedroom floor, they’ll be well on their way to becoming a full-fledged Civil War buff. There are lots of places to find accurate, kid-sized replicas that will help them to imagine themselves as someone who lived during the War, and will give them a better appreciation for their country’s complex history.
Another great collection for kids is vintage posters. Kids love posters anyway, so why not make a hobby out of it? Old posters can be found in thrift stores and antique shops, as well as online auction sites like Ebay. While the really old ones can go for hundreds of dollars, kids can have fun speculating about which modern posters will be worth the most when they grow up, and even trade with their friends.
Challenge coins are a great collecting item for children. They were originally used by American troops in France during World War II, where they were kept by soldiers as proof of identity to be shown at secret meetings. In later years, these coins became symbols of membership to different branches of the military as well as popular collectables. Several presidents have even had collections of their own.
For a child, textbooks can’t do justice to the most fascinating events in our history. By introducing a child to collecting, you can give them a deeper understanding of historical events that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Patrick Whalen is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @2patwhalen.