Today Debi of Go Explore Nature shares 20 super simple ways to play, create and explore with one of the oldest toys in the world – the humble stick!
When it comes to childhood toys, more often than not, simple is best. Take the humble stick, for example. It’s free, can be found just about anywhere, and can transform into almost anything a child wants it to. Plus, it’s fun for us adults, too. Maybe that’s why the stick was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2008!
Sticks are a great example of a “loose part,” something that doesn’t come with an instruction manual and can be used alone or combined with other items. Sticks encourage free play and using the imagination. No two times spent playing with a stick are ever quite the same.
I know what you’re thinking (especially if you have little ones) – yes, sticks can be dangerous. Your best defense against scrapes, bumps and bruises is to teach some basic safety limits from the start. These may differ depending on the setting and the family, but should include using sticks in wide-open spaces (like a yard or park), and not throwing or hitting anyone with the sticks.
Playing with sticks comes naturally to most kids, but if you’re looking to offer your child a little inspiration, here are some ideas to get you started.
20 Ways to Play With Sticks
2. Collect several sticks and sort them by length, width, shape, color or texture.
3. Try nature weaving with a “Y” stick, some yarn and natural elements.
4. Combine with other natural elements (leaves, flower petals, seeds, etc) to create a piece of nature art.
5. Make a frame for your nature art.
6. Transform one into a magic wand for little magicians, sorcerers and witches to cast their favorite spells.
7. Use a bunch as the framework for a fairy house or dragon cave. Larger sticks can be used to build a fort or den.
8. Design a nest for backyard birds.
9. Tie on a length of fabric or ribbon to create a wind streamer.
10. Play a game of pick-up sticks. Drop a bunch of sticks of about the same length onto the ground or table. Then remove a stick at a time from the pile without disturbing the others.
11. Draw a picture or write letters, words or names in the dirt, mud or sand.
12. Use as pair as drumsticks on a tree or rock to make outdoor music.
13. Practice your shapes, numbers or letters using sticks on the grass, dirt or pavement.
14. See how high you can build a stick tower by layering sticks on top of one another.
15. Have a pretend sword fight with an imaginary foe.
16. Paint them (or paint with them) with bright colors, pastels, water, mud or whatever else you have on hand.
17. Find a bridge over a stream or river and play Pooh sticks. Two players each drop a stick into the water on one side of the bridge, then race to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick comes out from under the bridge first.
18. Add some string to make a fishing pole.
19. Get into the holiday spirit by creating twig stars.
20. Roast a marshmallow on a stick over a backyard campfire pit.
What is your favorite way to play with sticks?
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