Monday, October 19, 2009

Collecting Cards with Your Kids

This year my kids started getting involved in the sports cards hobby. How we became engaged may not be right for everyone and I don't want to pretend that it's the best way, but it is a method that worked for us.

My goals were are to have them enjoy the hobby like I did as a kid (and still to do today) and not worry about the high dollar card value and limited inserts. My twin boys are five, so I wanted to start slow, make it fun, and create a learning environment.

First Step: Get the Materials
I bought them each a binder and sleeves to hold the cards. I also let them flip through one of my binders to see all the cards and how they go in there.

Second Step: Choose a Product
I limited our focus to one product to find player cards on our favorite team. I think multiple products and teams for each sport is too much for little kids. My theory is to keep it simple. For baseball, we limited our focus to the Topps 2009 Series 1 & 2. The design is nice and the cards can be bought almost anywhere without breaking the bank. For football, we're collecting 2009 Upper Deck: Icons - our football team is the Dallas Cowboys and the "America's Team" subset is a great way for the boys to always get some Cowboys cards. My local card store has some limited hours, so I needed something I can pick up at Target, Walmart, etc.

Third Step: Create a Checklist
Paul at Paul's Random Stuff listed all the 2009 Topps Mets cards (our family's favorite baseball team) on his blog to start the season. I entered this information into a spreadsheet and created some drop down lists. I'm doing the same thing right now with the UD Icons football cards.

Last Step: Rip 'em
Once I had the first three steps completed, we started picking up some packs. Sometimes we stopped at the card store (when it was open), but most of the time we hit the big box retailers.

So far my boys love it. I can see the excitement as they open each pack and when they find a player they recognize from watching the games on TV. We're still working on handling the cards with care (another reason to get the cheaper versions), but they add them to the binder each time. We're learning about the stats and about the players. Getting to use the computer is a ton of fun for them too. We're logging on to the PC, opening Excel, choosing their own spreadsheet, and clicking the arrows for their cards. This is teaching computer skills and reading while having fun with trading cards of your favorite team. Does it get better?!

Obviously, each child and circumstance is different. We all know that "one size does not fit all," but this approach worked with my kids. I narrowed the focus, found a product that fits our budget, and created a fun learning environment for them to get started. Watching my kids enjoy the hobby and learn about the players and team has been so much fun for me this year. This weekend I heard the words that can wet the eye of any card collecting parent, "Daddy, can we go get some cards today?" Sniff....


Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

Very cool.

'30-Year Old Cardboard said...

AWESOME!! I am a few years behind you, but hopefully on my way to building similar bonds with my boys. Great stuff James!!!

James said...

Thanks for the comments. I know I didn't pick the greatest looking sets, but it gets them started and so far they find it fun.