Any person who takes children outside for learning will have a ‘go to’ piece of equipment. Mine is the humble stick. Here are 5 ways I have used sticks during learning outside!
1. Wool wrapped sticks
This one really appeals to my crafty side. It is also great for improving children’s fine motor control. It’s really simple for the children to complete – simply find a stick of their choice, tie on a ball of wool and off they go. The trickiest part is getting started with the wrapping, but if you tie the knot fairly tight and then wrap over the knot, it should be plain sailing!
Multicoloured balls of wool work best, as you get a really nice contrast in colours, but any left over wool will work!
2. Stick paint brushes
This activity involves slightly more than just a stick but it’s still simple enough to do with any age or ability of children. Children find a stick and then find some other materials to use as the brush head. This can be grass, ferns, leaves, feathers – anything they want to try out. Hold the brush head materials against the top of the stick and secure with an elastic band. Now comes the really fun part: get the children to paint pictures with their new brushes and experiment with different heads.
3. Make a trail with your sticks
This was my favourite activity when I was younger, although it does require more than just one stick! Create a trail using sticks and rocks as various symbols. The simplest trail is just to make arrows with the sticks to show directions, but there are several more features you can try, as show below:
4. Cook over a campfire
My son’s favourite activity! Use a stick to cook various foods on an open fire. Marshmallows are great for this, but take care to let them cool down before eating.
Bread twists are also a great food to cook on the open fire. To make each twist:
- 1 cup of self raising flour
- 2 tbsp of powdered milk
- 1 tpsp of baking powder
- 1/4 tpsp of salt
- (optional) 1 tpsp of sugar
You will also need some vegetable oil to bind it together at the campsite.
With the bread dough prepared, the children should heat the sticks over the fire. Make sure they don’t burn – just enough to warm and sterilise the stick at the place that the bread dough will be going.
Get the children to start twisting the bread dough around the stick, using a bit of pressure so it adheres. Then, cook over the fire.
The sticks should be maintained at a height where you can safely hold your hand for a few seconds before it gets hot. Make sure they rotate their sticks regularly so that one side doesn’t get burnt.
This is me and my son Finley enjoying a marshmallow cooked on a stick that he found himself! (Willow works really well if you can find it!).
5. Wind chimes
A lovely activity that younger children will really enjoy (and love to take home at the end of the day) is to make wind chimes from sticks.
Select different length sticks and tie them to another (horizontal) stick. Hang nearby to catch a breeze!