Thursday, February 7, 2013
101 things...#19 Carry a big stick!
Although a surprising number of people are uncomfortable with the idea of children carrying and playing with sticks, I encourage it. After all, the stick was a recent inductee into the toy hall of fame! Children can learn a lot by playing with sticks. They get to experiment with objects that are heavy, oddly shaped, and perhaps even longer than they are! They can poke and drag sticks, making interesting patterns in the snow, sand, or leaves. Sticks are tools with which children can manipulate their environment. The endlessly variable sizes, shapes, textures and weights of sticks mean that there will always be challenges and plenty of "stuff to do" with sticks. Sticks make great building materials, props for dramatic play, tools, and even musical instruments. Sticks offer physical challenges and give children opportunities to test their own physical abilities. Think of the sense of accomplishment brought by carrying something that is twice as long as your own body! If you're uneasy with the idea of sticks, set some simple rules to keep everyone safe. Teachers have told me that some of the rules they've used to keep stick play safe include: no sticks longer than your arm, no touching other people with the sticks,or no hitting anything with the sticks. Think about what rules might make your classroom community safe, or keep your children from annoying their siblings! Whatever your outcome, I do encourage you to stop yourself from reflexively saying "put that down!" when you see someone pick up a stick. Remember the value that natural objects like sticks can have.