• Vicki Manning

10 ways to play with sticks

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Sticks. Big or small, they've made their way home with us. I've lost count of the number we've collected over the years.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them to be honest.

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.

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

We have three - so you can only imagine how many swords, wands and dens we've seen 😂

If you've got a collection at home, I'm going to share some of the fun things you can do with them!

Den, nature play, why we love sticks

Why I 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
This bonfire art uses autumn leaves and sticks

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. Chuck in some washi tape for colourful decoration.

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 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

Rainbow sequencing

Sticks are also great for counting and sequencing - check out this bit of rainbow sequencing by Mr 4 - a great opportunity to talk about colour as well as sorting by size. We just collected some sticks together and painted them with acrylics.

Stick mobile

We've made a few stick mobiles over the years, usually incorporating the odd bead and tying together with wool. I love how Happy Hooligans have created cute stars on theirs.


What's your favourite way to use sticks?

We're going on a sound hunt!

How to create a sensory bin

Why we love water play!

Getting creative with your kids

For more playful and creative learning ideas visit:

Instagram | Pinterest | Howweplayandlearn.com


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