Updated: Feb 23
Some simple ideas for having super good fun with sticks this half term.
There's just something about a stick. The stick is perhaps the oldest toy of all time and the starting point for endless activities for generations of children all over the world.
Children can poke with and drag sticks, making interesting patterns through the mud, sand, or leaves, build with sticks, bat balls with them, or make music with them. When children pretend with sticks, they cultivate their creativity and develop their imaginations. A stick can turn into a sword to fight off trolls in the woods, a magic wand to cast spells, a broomstick that transports you to another world, a fishing pole, a ship's mast, paddle or rudder. There's nowhere a stick can't take you!
Playing with sticks not only ignites children’s imaginations, but also has physical benefits. Branches and large sticks can build muscles as children drag, manipulate or carry them to and from places outdoors. Teamwork happens when a stick is too large for just one child to move, children develop their communication and social skills as they engage their peers to help them.
Sticks are not only the oldest toy, they’re possibly one of the best too. There are so many activities that start with a stick. Here's a few ideas you could try with your Wildlings at home 😊
MAKE A STICK MOBILE OR WIND CHIME
Collect sticks of different lengths, wrap around some twine, string or wool and tie these along a stick, making sure that they are close enough to knock together.
You can search for loose natural materials that make a sound such as conkers, acorns or broken shells, or things that will blow in the wind such as feathers, different coloured leaves or different types of grasses and add these too.
MAKE A DREAM OR SUN CATCHER
Twist a thin branch into a tear shape or use three sticks to create a triangle and secure with wool or string.
Next wrap with wool and add found objects such as cones or feathers.
For a sun catcher, glue on some tissue paper between some sticks, then add leaves or flowers.
MAKE STICK ANIMALS, PEOPLE OR SCULPTURES
While a lot can be done with sticks on their own, you can do even more by adding a few simple materials. Add some clay and natural objects to make creatures or simply create your own sculpture.
Clay easily adheres to the side of a tree and we love making clay faces in the wood for people to
find. Just place a dollop of soft clay onto the side of a tree and use sticks, moss and leaves to
create a face. You could also try your hand at some land art by arranging sticks and any other
natural materials you find in a pattern on the ground.
MAKE SOME NOISE
The woods can be an oasis of calm and tranquillity, but as everyone knows, children also love to make some noise! A favourite activity amongst the Wildlings is drumming with sticks on the side of trees or logs, pans from the mud kitchen, anything they find that makes a good noise really. Another good way to make some noise is by creating a rattle. Find a Y shaped stick which you can then paint or wrap in coloured wool. Attach some thin wire at the top onto which you can thread beads, bells, bottle tops, or anything that might make a bit of noise. Alternatively, you can thread small bells onto pipe cleaners and wrap around a stick for a simple jingle stick.
Once you've found a good stick, why not decorate it and make a wind streamer? Simply cut up old scraps of material (we found strips of satin and silk work well) or you could use ribbons if you have them available. Wrap the material around the stick and tie a knot. You are now ready to run, skip, hop and jump around with your own wind streamer. This activity is a windy day favourite at Wildlings, but you don’t have to wait for a breezy afternoon. Once your little one starts to run the material will stream out behind them.
Sticks give children the freedom to invent and discover, and make great building materials for construction play. For example make a bridge to hold up a toy, build the tallest structure, make a den for woodland fairies, see how high you can build a stick tower by layering sticks on top of one another. Add some toy animals or people and you can build a whole new miniature world for them to adventure in.
JOURNEY STICKS AND SECRET STICK TRAILS
Children love to collect things when out on their adventures, and a journey stick is a great way to help them curate and display their finds. As always, the starting point is a great stick. As you explore, help your children to add their finds to decorate their stick, fastening colourful leaves, spikey conker cases or simply follow their lead add whatever they choose to their stick as they go along. Once back home the journey stick can become a lovely prompt and reminder to reminisce about the fun time you had together.
A treasure hunt is another favourite activity. In its simplest form you can hide a toy or some well wrapped pieces of snack a few metres away then use sticks to mark the way to the treasure. Or if in a group, you could take in in turns to lay a ‘secret’ trail to lead the others through a woodland or along a path. Make sure to lay plenty of arrows to ensure that the trail is easy for others to follow. Once the rest of the group have found you, it's their turn to lay a trail for you.
As always, caution needs to be taken and some guidelines put in place to keep everyone safe and look after the world around us. Sticks are part of the natural world, providing food and shelter for birds and animals, so always collect them with care.
GENERAL SAFETY GUIDELINES:
Take great care when running with stick
Don’t point sticks at faces
Never wield a stick at people or animals
Watch out for splinters
When throwing sticks or things made from sticks, make sure everyone is well out of the way
Wash hands once you have finished your adventures/activities
Why not try to take some time to explore and enjoy the natural world together this half term. While you are there find yourself some “good” sticks and get creative!