• Vicki Manning

10 ways to play with sticks


Sticks. Big or small, thick or thin - every kind imaginable have made their way home with us. I've lost count of the number we've collected over the years.



If I'm totally honest, I hate it when at the end of a daytrip we have sticks shoved in every pocket of the buggy and our rucksacks. So much so that I've now made made rule that any sticks they want to take home they have to carry.


But as much as they can drive me nuts (and at times a little anxious about their eye-poking potential), we have so much fun with them I'm happy to put up with a collection or two! Anything that gives my children the chance to play and learn is a winner with me.


We have three stick obsessed children currently, my hopes that my eldest would grow out of it have been unfounded, so you can only imagine how many swords, wands and dens we've seen 😂 But secretly I kinda love it. There's something so appealing about 'nature's toys', and sticks must be the ultimate.


Do you have a stick-obsessed child like we do?

If you've got a collection at home, I'm going to share 10 of our all time favourite things to do with them! From games to art, they're all really fun and are a great way to be creative with your outdoor play.


Den, nature play, why we love sticks

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Why we love sticks

  1. They are free

  2. They are readily available

  3. They can drive imagination

  4. They are open-ended (have no fixed use)

  5. They can be played with in all seasons

  6. They can be recycled once you're done with them


Den, nature play, why we love sticks

Our favourite things to do with sticks


There are a million and one things you can do with sticks; here are some of our favourites to get you started.



Stick - tac - toe


Excuse the terrible pun I couldn't resist! Stick-tac-toe is a really easy way to play a game on the run. Just grab some sticks to make a 3x3 frame, choose some natural objects like stones, flowers, leaves, pine cones etc. and have a quick game.


Stick maze


Another great game to play when out and about. The maze can be big or small, and you can take it in turns designing one.


Stick games, nature play, why we love sticks

Ribbon streamer


So much fun running around and seeing the wind blow the ribbons. I like to save ribbons from presents and boxes of chocolates so I don't have to buy any.


Mini dens


If you've had enough of building full-size dens (is that even possible?!), why not try making some for toys. If it's raining too much to play outside, you can always 'cheat' with lolly sticks.


Nature crown, why we love sticks

Twisted crowns


Thin green sticks such as willow or jasmine (pictured) can be twisted into a circle; decorated with flowers they make a gorgeous little crown for all those princes and princesses out there.


Transient art with a crazy grass hairdo

Transient art


Sticks are great for creating moveable or 'transient' art outdoors. Why not add some to your loose parts collection and see what creations the kids come up with.


Marshmallows toasting on fire

Toasting sticks


Who doesn't love toasting marshmallows? Mr 10 doesn't actually like eating them but still loves to toast them for other people! For the perfect marshmallow toasting stick, find a long straight stick (around 4 ft), whittle one end to a point, and wrap colourful wool around the other end to make a handle.


Natural paint brushes made with sticks, ferns, grass & moss
Blackberry ink abstract

Nature brushes


Small straight sticks are perfect for making paintbrushes. In the past we have taped some nature finds on (such as feathers and ferns) and made paint from blackberries. We had a great adventure looking for things to use and then made some fun abstract art.


Sequencing sticks, rainbow, montessori, why we love sticks


Stick painting


We love painting sticks, it's such a fun way to get creative outdoors, and if you use acrylic paints the colours last a long time in all weathers. A few years ago we painted stripes on giant sticks to make a teepee; they've been outside all this time and the paint is only just starting to peel!


Stick mobile


We've made a few stick mobiles over the years, usually incorporating the odd bead and tying together with wool. You can really go to town with the shapes and design of of then. I love how Happy Hooligans have created cute stars on theirs.


What's your favourite way to play with sticks? Leave me a comment!


Pin it for later:


More Ideas!


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Getting creative with your kids

For more playful and creative learning ideas visit:

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