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August 25, 2023

Kid Collections: Three Surprising Things Second Plane Kids NEED

It's so fascinating to me how children really are so very distinct in each stage of their development. The second plane of development - that is from ages 6 to 12 - is no different. Kids in the second plane have so many unique quirks, interests, characteristics, and needs. Now, I've been parenting kids in the second plane for six years now, and one part that I have found particularly fascinating is the sudden lack of external order and how that practically manifests. 

Often, I've noticed, that as the sensitive period for order fades in children, a strong desire to collect random "treasures" (what I would call junk) increases. Little tiny things that don't have meaning to me suddenly become really important to them. A rock from the beach, a gem from that one art project, 14 scraps of paper, and just all the things. 

Three Essentials for Elementary Kids 

I've really found that kinds in the second plane need three things when it comes to this new found desire - or we might even call a developmental need - to collect and have a lot of things. Here are three things that I've found essential for the second plane need to have collections. 

A Prepared Environment 

Just like younger kids, second plane kids need an environment that meets their developmental needs. So, for me, a junk drawer or treasure box is essential for this particular quirk of this age. This can be anywhere that they can access to put their random things in. We have personally used with different children - a drawer in their dresser, a caboodle case, and this wooden box of drawers. Where we put them mattered far less than the fact that they had access to the space. 

They really need somewhere to keep these things, and they will find it even if you don't provide it. But it will end up shoved in the corner of their room, the bottom of their backpack, or strewn everywhere throughout the house. Having a specific place has helped me personally feel alright with the amount of clutter and not accidentally mistake said clutter for garbage. 

Bottom line - find somewhere accessible that you're ok with them filling up. 

The Right Tools 

These kids need the right tools at their disposal to manage this new found lack of order and interest in everything that leads to all this collecting. For us, that is a garbage can. I've found more than ever the second plane kids really need access to their own way to successfully manage their things. through easy organization and garbage/recycling. I've really found that having access to their own garbage can really helps keep things like wrappers, bits of paper and other things from just being shoved all sorts of places. Without that strong sense of external order we really need to make it obvious and easy for them to maintain order. 

But, beyond garbage, this can also include places to display their treasures, scrapbooks or photo books, and ways to store important things more permanently. We want to respect the things that are important to them and give them a change to explore their interests in this way. 


As Montessori parents we never want to leave our children hanging without a lesson on something relevant to their lives. Just like we give small children lessons on where to put their shoes, how to wash their hands, or how to cut up fruit, we want to give lessons to older children on the practical tasks that are relevant to them. And, for many in the second plane that includes managing their collections/clutter/junk drawer or whatever you want to call it. 

That means sharing the values that are important to you and your family with them. Helping them understand why we can't keep certain things forever - looking at you candy wrappers - and what to do with things when we are done with them. This could mean a direct lesson, or engaging their imagination with a story. It could mean supporting them in donating, selling, or cleaning. 

In our home we often see a cycle of chaos and cleaning with my second plane kids. They don't care, don't care, then get a sudden burst of needing to clean/purge/organize the things in their space. Helping to give them the tools to do this is my job! 

Have you noticed your second plane child's need to collect and keep things? How do you support this need in your Montessori home?

Discover the Mystery Behind your Kid's Junk Collection

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Anonymous said…
Oh my! Yes I have noticed this in all my kids (currently ages 4-10) and I want to explain to them that they cannot keep everything yet I don’t want to break their heart by throwing things away myself, so naturally, our house is CLUTTERED! Thank you for this post - looking for some follow up post to some lessons you can share on how exactly to teach them.