I hear a lot of moms comment about their kids collecting rocks. One friend of mine has 4 kids who routinely put rocks in their pockets to paint during the summer months. Another mom I know had to resort to a large flower vase to contain all the rocks her daughter brought home. For my boys, it's pine cones. We live in Ohio, so pine cones are plentiful! Every walk we take results in at least 1 pine cone per child & I bet we have come home with 20-25 in a single walk. I do not allow them in the house very often, they crunch up & make a terrible mess. Our dog also thinks they are a delectable treat, and I can't imagine they are great for her insides! We keep the pine cones in a box in the garage and generally use them start fires in the fall and winter. This serves several purposes. 1.) It works to help our fires get started 2.) the boys think it is neat that they catch fire first and 3.) It thins out the pine cone collection for next year!
But, I do try to incorporate them into crafts if I get the chance. The boys love to go out to the box and find the "one" they want to use. The hard work of finding the perfect pine cone will turn the day around for the boys! Their excitement for crafting turns the day around for me!