5 Ways to Help Kids Learn Through Collecting

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written by children’s book author, Jamie Michalak

“Welcome to my Mousehole Museum!” Miss Crumb says with a wink. “What treasures will you find?”

In my new seek-and-find picture book Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, children are invited to go on a treasure-hunting adventure — and then explore rooms of a miniature museum. (Spoiler alert: This is because Dakota Crumb leads a double life!)

By night, Dakota is a bit like Indiana Jones. She sneaks into the city’s great, big museum to hunt for rare treasures. By day, she’s Miss Crumb, the mild-mannered curator of her own Mousehole Museum, where she displays what shes found — stamps, mini toys, pressed pennies, shells, dollhouse furniture, and more. Dakota collects them all.

In this way, she might sound like a little one you know. Because kids are born collectors.

As it turns out, there are BIG benefits to collecting. Collecting teaches kids how to organize. It boosts their social skills when they discuss their collection with other kids — and maybe even negotiate a trade! And collecting helps children slow down and pay attention as they hunt for treasures and observe the minute details of every find. By collecting, children create a world of their own — one that they’re in total control of.

5 Ways to Help Kids Learn Through Collecting

Here are five fun ways to help your tiny treasure hunters learn through collecting:

  1. Go on a Tiny Treasure Hunt — Collecting objects doesn’t have to cost a cent. Why not take your child on a nature walk to collect the wonders of the forest, beach, or their own neighborhood? They can use an empty egg carton as a “treasure box” to hold what they find. To kick off a color-sorting treasure hunt, simply press circles of different color construction paper into the egg cups. Then look for natural objects that match those colors.
  2. Identify, Sort, Count — Kids love to organize items within their collection by category. This is a good opportunity to help them explore colors, sizes, shapes, or the alphabet. Or use the collected objects to practice counting. addition, and subtraction.
  3. Ask an Expert — Collecting = library visits. For example, kids who collect dinosaur figurines are likely going to want to learn everything about dinos. Why not help your child dig up some cool facts about their collection? They’re great for sharing at the dinner table.
  4. Build Vocabulary Skills — Encourage children to use their senses to describe each item in their collection. Is it shiny? Bumpy? Fluffy like a cloud? Or play a guessing game: close your eyes and try to guess the object as they describe it.
  5. Make a Mousehole Museum — What better way for kids to curate their collection than with their very own museum? Kids can use a shelf, tabletop, or windowsill to display their finds. Then they can create a label for each object to name and describe it.

Make a Mousehole Museum Diorama

Or help your child make an adorable Mousehole Museum diorama:

            • What youll need: shoebox, paint, paintbrush, tiny treasures, glue (optional)
            • Turn a shoebox on its side
            • Ask your child to paint a background on the inside of the box and let it dry
            • Working from the back of the box to the front, they can position their mini objects to create a Mousehole Museum display. Glue them in place if youd like
            • The best part? Kids can invite visitors and give them a tour!

Free Activity Kit

For more treasure hunt ideas and other fun educational activities, download the free Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter activity kit.

About Jamie Michalak

Jamie Michalak is the author of many children’s books, including Dakota Crumb: Tiny Treasure Hunter, illustrated by Kelly Murphy; Frank and Bean, illustrated by Bob Kolar; the highly praised Joe and Sparky early readers series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz; as well as the forthcoming picture book Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites, co-written with Debbi Michiko Florence and illustrated by Yuko Jones, and many more.

When not writing, she can often be found singing off-key, drinking too much coffee, or hanging out with her two sons. Jamie lives with her family in Barrington, Rhode Island. For more info, visit her at www.jamiemichalak.com

About Dakota Crumb, Tiny Treasure Hunter

Dakota Crumb Tiny Treasure Hunter by Jamie Michalak; illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Amazon Bookshop

Published by Candlewick Press, July 2021

Hardcover picture book; Ages 3-7

In a clever take on the “night at the museum” theme, a little mouse with a genius for collecting leads picture book readers—and seek-and-find fans—on a thrilling nocturnal adventure.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

A delightful, entertaining romp with lots of surprises!” —Kirkus

Dakota Crumb is a delight that readers will return to again and again. In that way, its a bit like a favorite, fabulous museum.” —BookPage

The writing draws listeners into the story with hints of daring escapades, and its tone sets the stage for adventure. The inviting artwork … enhances that atmosphere with shadowy scenes of the exhibit halls at night. Fun for reading aloud!” —Booklist

5 Ways to Help Kids Learn Through Collecting

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