Posted by Molly and Jasmine
Sticks can be so much more than just sticks. Let a child explore a forest for a few minutes, and they are certain to find the perfect stick!
At The Nature School, we encourage playing with sticks, and have conversations with students about how we can use sticks safely: “What size stick is best? How can we walk with a stick in a good way? What else can our sticks become?”
Watch any child in the forest for an hour, and that stick is destined to become A LOT. They will turn it into a walking device, a microphone, a measuring tool, a treasure, a horse, a broomstick — and, of course, a sword or weapon.
It’s tempting to snatch the stick away immediately if a child makes it a sword. But if we do, we don’t get to see what else that stick might become, like a wand, or a tool for learning math!
Recently, our Nature School played with math sticks. The preschool students used the sticks to match colours and create shapes. The primary students created a game where the goal was to make a square.
Once a square was completed, a natural object (pine cone or pine needles) was placed in the centre to show who had created the square! A simple game with so many math concepts — including geometry, number sense, patterns, and more!
Students could also use the math sticks to create 3-D shapes.
Sticks have their place in a child’s world; they are the ultimate, ever-changing toy. Adults often want to shout “Put down that stick!” But if we give kids the proper techniques to safely play with a stick, their imaginations will run wild, and their learning will be all the better for it!