Stick Play. It’s Only Natural!

Given the recent ice storm and subsequent fallen branches, children have had easy access to some wonderful raw materials–sticks! Children can’t resist the invitation. They pick up sticks, to build, play or use in new and familiar ways.  Adults can often best support children’s joyful, creative play by geting out of their way.  

This past week, some of the richest invention, play and negotiation revolved around sticks. I got to witness children’s connection to the natural word deepen one stick at a time!

  • D and M plant sticks in HFP’s sandbox to create a forest. They invent  a rich, imaginative game in which they need to water the trees and rescue the dying Earth using magic water, magic dust, and magic apple juice. They make multiple trips to the rain barrel to scoop up water to feed the trees. At one point, a storm knocks down all the trees. A new urgent call for magic water arises. It turns out they are completely out of magic water so they try out some sacred magic apple juice instead.


  • In the side grassy area, K finds a long skinny branch and starts to whip it through the air. As it slices the air, it makes a satisfying swishing sound. K feels powerful. Others are interested in doing the same. As they find sticks, we experiment with whooshing and swooshing the stick-sword through the air. V. is disappointed that his thick branch doesn’t make the same sound when he moves it. K offers some words of advice, coaching V to find a narrower branch. As we experiment together, we practice giving each other lots of space so that nobody is accidentally whipped with a stick. In this way, we can honor children’s interest in trying this physical challenge while supporting both their own body awareness and spatial awareness to protect their friends.

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