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How Browsing Antique Stores Teaches Kids History

Melissa Taylor

"Look mom," points my daughter to a kitchy glass figurine. My kids eyes go straight to the colorful china and crystal. It's love at first sight. I smile and nod knowingly. I liked that kind of thing when I was a kid, too.

Then we discover the motherlode of household antique shops, the best place to appreciate the present and the past.

The house-turned-store is our last stop and my favorite. I challenge my girls to pick up an old iron with just one hand, to look at the Edison record player and predict how it worked, and to feel the keys of an old typewriter. We compare things we use in modern life to what people used years ago. The washboards get us talking about laundry. Old dolls remind us that even a long time ago kids played with dolls, too. Many of the antique items make my kids ask, "What is this?" Their curiosity and our discussions are rich with lessons from the past and appreciation of the present. 

We don't buy anything. Today we're appreciating. 

If we did buy anything, it would be good practice in their financial skills -- to budget their money and make good buying decisions. I can imagine the girls starting a collection of something antique like post cards or keys. (I think I would collect old keys - they are so interesting!)

A small room devoted to western antiques -- with the most amazing old nails and a saddle - got my kids to connect to their grandma's history. "No wonder Mimi always rode bareback," said my daughter. "That saddle looks really heavy." 

What a day filled with learning and all for free! Maybe tonight we'll even watch Antiques Roadshow.

For more on kids and antiques, visit Kid Pickers.

Have you taken you kids to an antique store?

Will you after reading this article?

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