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Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The possibilities of a stick

Did you know that the stick may be the world’s oldest toy? Sticks are wonderful, they are open ended and full of possibilities. When children pretend with sticks, they cultivate their creativity and develop their imaginations. 

Children view sticks entirely differently to adults. This week in a whānau time, I passed a stick around a group of our children and asked them if they could share an idea for using a stick. Here is some of what they said: 

“You could play using them like a talking stick”

“You can glue things on sticks and use it as a magical wand” 

“It’s good for you to use it for a walking stick” 

“It could be a sword” 

“You could build a tree fort. If you put a leaf on it, it becomes a magical leaf wand” 

“You could tie a rope and it could be a fishing rod” 

“Play fetch with a dog. Play doggy who’s got the bone” 

When children play with sticks they improvise and let their imaginations take over. An everyday object supplied by nature can suddenly become a prop for endless play opportunities and learning. 

Sticks of all shapes and sizes are an important feature in our resources at Kindergarten. This supply is used by the children for construction, imaginary play, gross motor activities, tools, creative arts and supporting divergent thinking. 

We refer to sticks as resources termed 'Loose Parts'
Architect Simon Nicholson coined the phrase’ loose parts’ in the 1970’s. He believed that it was the loose parts in our environment that empowered creativity. 
Loose parts are items and materials that children can move, adapt, control, change and manipulate in their play. They have no specific set of directions and can be used alone or with other materials (Oxfordshire Play Association).

Playing with sticks can often be viewed with negativity from adults. In our quest for ‘keeping children safe’ it is easy to oversee the endless play opportunities which are perceived by children. 

When we are questioned about sticks from parents or other teachers, we suggest introducing big sticks into play first. Our theory at Mairtown is that big sticks require lots of co-ordination and skill to move about. Large sticks can also be heavy, transporting them requires children to be mindful of their movements. 

We also have ‘expectations’ around sticks. No running with sticks, and when carrying them, the safe way to travel is to have your stick at your side. 

The learning outcomes of stick play far exceed the risks; sticks are used daily at Mairtown, with very few reported accidents. 

Sticks can change our perception of something, thus turning a negative into a positive. The only way to overcome fear and worry around sticks is to use them.

As teachers we continue to be open to the possibilities of sticks throughout our curriculum. Sticks have moved from being a traditional outside resource to a valuable extension of the play and work which happens indoors as well.

Sticks of varying shapes, weight, sizes and textures have been offered as provocations for invention and design. Today frames and large pieces of paper were positioned alongside bowls and stacks of twigs and sticks.

Children chose to create both individual and collaborative pieces of work. The focus here is on the process of exploration and innovation. When the work is finished the canvas is cleared to allow someone else an empty space for being creative.

The best thing about sticks is that they are free and supplied everywhere in nature! Children will choose sticks over fancy toys. Give your child a stick and watch their imagination and creativity un-fold!

I'm going to finish with an inspiring (and slightly adapted) poem by Alec Duncan. We found this on the 'Flights of whimsy' website:

Hold this for me – it’s not a stick.
Really it’s a wizard’s staff,
And we will fight dragons together,
Heroes, side by side.

But wait – it’s not a wizard’s staff.
Really it’s a fishing rod,
And we will catch fish together,
And dangle our toes in the water.

No, no, you see  – it’s not a fishing rod.
Really it’s a shining horse,
And we will ride races together,
As the earth shakes beneath our hooves.

Oh, I know  – it’s not a shining horse.
Really it’s a hammer,
And we will build a house together
To keep us warm when the cold wind blows.
And the best thing – do you know the best thing?
Outside there are more sticks,
So many stories waiting to be told:
Let’s find out what they are.
We’ll write them together.
Nga mihi nui

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi to all at Mairtown. Thanks for the work you have shared here. Just love it. Chris Bayes