By the time my daughter was eight, she had an amazing collection of shells from vacations at the beach. One trip to St. Thomas provided a treasure trove of unusual shells, among them: cowries and conches.
“Mom,” she would ask, “what are the names of these shells?” One by one, we would look at angel wings with their delicate plaid patterns and rosy clam shells and shiny olive shells. “What are their real names?” she would ask. “Real names?” I replied. “Like in the dictionary, mom?”
So off we went to the library and came home with books. An olive shell, we found was an Olividae; a cowry, a Cypraeidae and a conch, a Strombidae. We explored what these names meant in Latin. Each shell was placed in a plastic bag and tagged with its name. When we returned the books, Gina asked if she could display her shells in the library display case. Printed next to each shell was its English name and its Latin name. The local paper took her photo and ran a story on Gina and her shell collection.
Just like a chambered nautilus, a child builds an intellectual framewrok from a tiny center, chamber by chamber. Your child too can be an expert in his/her world. Encourage collecting. Explore how things are different and similar. Learn to categorize in groups. Why is a chambered nautilus called that? Today we have the internet and can easily find answers. Curiosity leads us on incredible adventures.