Nature play with sticks is another way for kids to “go wild for nature.” While adults cringe, they may be some of nature’s most amazing toys. Because there is some risk, extra supervision might be needed.
Playing with sticks appeals to kids all around the world. A stick is like a bridge that goes from the real world to the world of our imaginations. From nature to fantasy. A stick can be a sword to fight dragons or a digger to scratch a road in the dirt. A pole for a blanket fort or a magician’s wand, a stick has unlimited possibilities. It might be a home to ants, beetles, or fairies.
(Yes, some kids will turn a stick into a gun. This kind of play is controversial. One little boy who wasn’t allowed toy guns at home was playing with one at a friend’s. When his parents came, he reassured them “I’m pretending it’s a stick.”)
Because kids can use a stick in so many ways: to build, to make marks, to stir mudpies they feel empowered. With a stick, a child doesn’t just observe nature passively, but interacts very actively. On a simple outing in a natural area, kids will pick up sticks. Finding out just the right size for walking is only a beginning.
If possible, after finding a stick, encourage kids to take a good look and maybe ask a few questions.. Is there bark on it? Any bumps or cracks? Check out the sides and the ends. Any guesses where the stick came from? Look all around. It’s tricky to match sticks to trees but some kids are keen naturalists.
Sticks are more than toys. They are a gift from nature. Kids might be able to help gather sticks for a campfire. Peel a fresh one for making hotdogs. What other ways can kids enjoy nature play with sticks?
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