1 Create displays for everyone's enjoyment. When a child brings a collection from home, provide a special table for this temporary display. For class or group collections, organize and store displays in clear plastic or cardboard dress boxes for easy rotation.
2 Check for safety. Check collections for sharp items, broken pieces, or rust. Make sure children haven't gathered poisonous berries or mushrooms or that rocks and flowers aren't sprayed with weed killers. Keep magnets away from the computer.
3 Prepare displays for sharing. For popular collections like prisms or magnets, have duplicates on hand or use a sign-up system. Two or four children can sit on the floor and explore a collection spread out on a bathmat. Four chairs set at a table invite four investigators. Send home exciting collections to share with families.
4 Stimulate conversation. To foster curiosity, add signs with open-ended questions such as, "What ways are these things alike?" Provide magnifying glasses to zero in on unique characteristics. Offer markers and paper so children can graph their findings.
5. Use floor space. As an interesting display method, place a huge sheet of clear, shatterproof Plexiglas over colorful collections on the classroom floor. Encourage children to observe the collections on their tummies for a "closer look"!
6 Make the displays interactive. Place dinosaur figurines in a sandbox for hands-on fun. Create puzzle halves to match together-glue an oak leaf on the right side of a piece of cardboard and an acorn on the left side. Add magnetic strips to the backs of rocks and place them in categories (big/little, yellow) on a magnetic board.
7 Label displays creatively. Take a photo of the children who provide or work on collections. Along with the photos, add their names to the displays to make them feel an important part of the collecting process.
8 Share collections with the school. Help children plan their displays. Together, make the hall showcase attractive with draped fabric to nestle and highlight individual collections. Make curio floor cubes with cardboard boxes and taped on, clear cellophane for peek-a-boo tops.
9 Add displays to portfolios. Take photos and document the collecting process on a page for individual portfolios or on documentation panels for the group.
10 Spotlight collections on parents' night. Use interesting collections as table centerpieces for a potluck supper. Make a video about the collecting and investigating process and share it with parents. Design a gallery area with stacked cardboard boxes covered with cloth to attractively feature various displays.