Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Ties That Bind

I was ironing the other day. That's right vacation has begun?! I was ironing an antique tablecloth and some vintage aprons. As I proceeded with my domestic drudgery (not really, I love to iron) my mind wandered to my love of collections. I am a hoarder, ahem, collector. It started when I was a little girl. My Grandfather was a philatelist and he encouraged me to start collecting as well. Even as a little girl I noticed dialects. One day, my Grandfather was explaining to me what "coil" stamps were. For the longest time I pronounced the word "curl" because my Grandfather was from the Bronx and everything "oil" with my translation, was "url," and everything "url" was "oil!" You see, I was only a little "goil" and Bronx was a different language. My Grandfather was also an amazing artist. He made me a beautiful stamp book that I treasure. I also began to treasure collecting. As I grew up I moved away from stamps and rocks and onto records. I saved all my change and would head over to Ramsey Records and search the bins for albums on sale. I amassed quite a collection, hundreds of albums in fact. One day, many years later, we had a yard sale and my husband accidentally took the crates of albums I wanted instead of the small stack I was willing to part with. I don't want to talk about it:( Suffice it to say, now my kids favorite mom quote is, "I used to have that album." Sometime in my twenties, my nesting kicked in, so my collecting trended to more domestic items; antiques, in particular linens and glassware. I love old kitchen glass especially, jade-ite and salt and pepper shakers and refrigerator jars. Naturally, with children and limited space my purchasing has slowed down. Very sad! I do love poking around a musty antique shop, though.

Okay, back to ironing! I started thinking about how collecting has influenced me and my children. My son would go into my china cabinet and take a Wade whimsy to his room and announce he had a "collection." My daughter has a love of buttons and has acquired some beautiful Bakelite and vintage buttons. My wheels started turning and I wondered how I could connect collecting to speech language therapy? I did a little "light research" and came across an article in Psychology Today that explored how children's collections could be used to an advantage in the classroom. The article quoted Elizabeth Howe. She wrote, "It is quite clear, that the teacher who had such information would have an insight into the children's inner life which she would hardly be able to get in any other way. Since good teaching strives to connect student interest to curricular content, such knowledge can be invaluable for building intellectual bridges."
How can I use a child's collection as the basis of speech language therapy? Here's how:
  1. Vocabulary development-whether it's rocks, stamps, or buttons the opportunity to expand vocabulary is rich. Think about words like philately (love they way that one rolls off the tongue), vintage, Bakelite, igneous, mica, etc.
  2. The connection to science speaks for itself.
  3. As I considered the types of collections I have I am reminded of history and the connection to Social Studies. My collections of choice harken back to the depression and WWII. An exploration of life in those eras would be both fascinating and fun for students.
  4. With many collections, a study of the arts would dovetail beautifully. The designs of types of glassware, textile design, and stamp artistry.
  5. Executive Functions-it would be a blast to have students design a stamp or an apron and role play the process of marketing their designs.
  6. Compare and Contrast- the opportunities for comparison are limitless. Comparisons can be made between eras and items themselves.
  7. Social Pragmatics-I love the idea of students sharing their own collections; how they began and why they are so valued. The collections themselves could provide great insight into a students thoughts and feelings. 
  8. Written Expression-what a wonderful opportunity to write from prior knowledge or to create a character that has a penchant for collecting Matroyshka dolls or socks or gum wrappers.
For me, my collections connect me to an era I love.
They connect me to my parents and grandparents. They connect me to my children and someday to their children and I find comfort in these silly, whimsical pieces of glass and fabric. I think that collecting was important for me as a child and I think it still is today. It seems something of childhood has been lost and I would love to rekindle that joy for my students. Oh, and as I look back on my stamps (that I just had my son retrieve from the attic) I was reminded that my Pops rocked!!!


  1. Ironing? Is that what you do with your laminating station? :)
    Fun post!!! :)

    1. BAHAHAHAHA!! How did you know I use my ironing board as lamination central?

  2. Thanks for reminding me to cherish my childrens' collections...and fight the urge to purge. This brought me back to some of my collections as a girl...Mylar balloons was a favorite!

    1. I really do wish I had your urge to purge, but as you know I hold on to stuff. My husband accuses me of saving little pieces of string!