Zettelkasten Forum

Building a physical Zettelkasten with a 6 year old kid

Hey fellow Zettlers! (This is a crossposting from r/antinet since I am into building a paperbased ZK/AntiNet since 6 weeks as an addition to my digital workhorse).

If it is OK with you, I would like to hear your opinions or get some more ideas:

My daughter is really fascinated by my work with the paper-based Zettelkasten. Which is a no-brainer since she can't watch me working with the digital one.

So I thought it might be a good idea to start one with her as well when she begins elementary school this summer.

What I talked about with her is:

  1. She gets her own AntiNet-Box - we start with just one in A7 (5 1/8 x 7)

  2. Everyday when she comes from school and learned something really interesting or has a question that fascinates her, we write that down, do research, write Bib-Cards and permanent notes of what she wants to keep.

  3. In the evening we show us our cards that we produced that day and install the in our boxes.

The main idea is to get her interested in capturing her knowledge and what she learned, make it tangible and usable for her.

So that is roughly the idea.

Here are some questions for you:

  • What ideas come to mind when you think about an AntiNet for Kids?
  • What would you put in there?
  • How would you categorize it? (Scott’s System might be a bit too complicated for a kid ;))
  • What system to link the cards would be helpful?

I have no idea if that works longterm but it might be worth a try. If she keeps to it and builds up her personal knowledge box piece by piece and Zettel by Zettel that could be really valuable some day.

The project should not just be a collection of Flashcards or learning cards but should teach her the philosophy of building her very own thinking and knowledge tool.

What do you think?

Post edited by probefahrer on


  • Yes, she definitely should have her own box for that. It would be difficult for her since she still needs to learn how to read and write, i imagine.

    I can't really relate to the life of 6yrs old, but focusing on the material she learned might be too one-sided. I'd include her thoughts and feelings, what friends she made, what interests they have and her opinion on them. Also, talents she's good at, things she admires, what she wants to do in life. All that is interesting on her personality even 10 years later.

    Her own motivation should be the first priority on this project. She has her own pace on working on this, find her own use and might loose interest or use it on and off. I'd shy away from using it as a tool or learning technique, not at this age.

    Her capability in making connections is going to increase dramatically over time. Most of them won't be relevant in a year from now. I'd just go with anything.

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • I agree with @zk_1000 that you'll be a success if together you just do anything without judgment. Provide the materials, take things slow, listen to what she says, make time to be with her, and make it fun.

    The methodology you describe is already too complicated. Let her work be hers. If she wants to store pictures of unicorns in her "Slip Box," let her.

    One tip would be to store her "Slip Box" formally next to yours. Give her full permission to "play" with hers any time she wants but set up a time when you can work together. You work on yours while she plays in hers. She'll see what you do and emulate or question. Time spent with her will be high-quality father-daughter time.

    I'm a poor reference. I have no children in my life. Mary and I are orphaned. It has been 60 years since I was six, and I can't remember what it was like. It is a big responsibility to mentor a young person.

    Will Simpson
    My zettelkasten is for my ideas, not the ideas of others. I will try to remember this. I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon, I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.

  • @probefahrer Good advice from both @zk_1000 and @Will .

    I've got one daughter interested in and avidly using her own ZK. However, she's a bit older than your daugher - 45 and back in university, qualifying to be a high school teacher. But she took to ZK like a fish to water and uses it constantly in her learning and in her practise teaching.

    I've also mentored a few young engineers at work (early twenties) on how to create and use their own ZK.

    However, I'd have to get my thinking cap on about a 6-year old. Fortunately, I have a few grandchildren about that age. Some of them are very bright and I think would understand very quickly what a ZK was all about (and would be more than happy to build one on a computer; in fact, doing it via paper might turn them off - depends on their artistic inclinations). Others may or may not be interested.

    Does your daughter keep a journal or write in a diary? That might give you some sense of how sophisticated of a thinker she is (or not), and how she best expresses herself. I read some of these books on keeping a bullet journal and am envious of the wonderful artwork that some people include. I can appreciate that, but my own bullet journal is on a computer - that's my leaning.

    I think the advice of letting her determine her own content and her own timing is very wise. My mother died when I was quite young (3) and her parents lived in England. This is in the early 1950's, so the main form of communication was writing. When I was about your daughter's age, my father started encouraging me to write to my grandparents. At first, I was excited and it was a lot of fun, but soon my father was looking over my shoulder, critiquing what I said and how I said it, etc. It became a chore and then a hated chore. I'd drag my feet and wouldn't want to write anything. Finally he figured out that he was the problem and left me to my own devices. Turns out I wanted to write regularly and had something to say; at 7 or 8 I could figure out how to address, stamp and send the letter myself; and my grandfather was more than happy to read my fledgling letters and respond thoughtfully. That might be a cautionary tale for you, your daughter and her ZK.

    I wish her (and you) the best of experiences with this, though. It is a wonderful idea. Just be flexible and be happy with any progress she makes.

  • There was someone here who posted about creating a long term Tiddly Wiki with their kids, wish I could find it in the forums or remember the user.

    I would recommend using the traditional luhmann numbering system since that works really well with cards.

    I would have two different focuses in terms of content. For a couple years when I was a kid my mom kept a journal of notable memories. That was a lot of fun to go back through in adulthood. I would do the same except you write the memories of anything notable that happened in her day and then integrate it into a "memories" section of her slipbox.

    In terms of other content. You could just keep notes on concepts she learns, then recursively build on them over the years. I believe that is what school process is about?

    Other than that I think I would look towards the book by Susan Wise Bauer titled "The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home", which is a home schooling guide. As that would probably give you an idea of what is important to learn at her level and what types of information will be helpful to carry over as she gets older.

    I think when it comes down to it you have to really design it around what does she find engaging? As that is what will keep her coming back and adding to it. Whether that is a book she likes, a favorite movie, a favorite character, etc. I think what you want to do is find a topic so engaging that you teach her how to research essentially, where you come back to a topic and expand upon it.

  • I'd first cleary define the objective in this project.

    The ZK can be just the frame work to really train the tought capturing process and develop the skill of translating personal thought into something communicable (visuals included). In that case, there is no need to take architecture into consideration as something that is important. Just a basic frame work is enough.

    If connected thinking is an objective then both lateral and concentrated thinking come into play. Then building tangible trails are more important. Then information mapping techniques become more valuable and their interconnection with the architecture.

    I don't think any methodological questions are important for any objective. Just the bare minimum of what Luhmann layed out works fine. (n=2)

    I am a Zettler

Sign In or Register to comment.