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Named the ‘world’s oldest toy’ by the National Toy Hall of Fame, the humble stick has been entertaining children for generations. From Poohsticks to journey sticks and bird nests to wind chimes, the play possibilities are endless.

We’ve gathered together some of our favourite stick crafts and activities to try with your family on your next woodland adventure. Have fun!

Dens

This is a great activity the whole family can join in with. Use fallen branches and sticks to build a den in the woods – it makes an ideal hideout to watch wildlife, plus you can shelter inside it if it starts to rain. Discover our top tips in our den building blog.

Bird nest

Challenge your kids to build a nest strong enough to hold a clutch of eggs and withstand the wind. Slender, bendy twigs are best. You’ll need to weave them together to make a basic nest shape, then use dried grass and fallen leaves to fill in any gaps. When you’ve finished, test it out by putting some small stones or tree cones inside. Can your nest take the weight without falling apart?

Journey stick

Journey sticks have been around for many years – they were used by Native Americans and Aboriginal people to share stories from their travels. To make one, find an interesting stick and wrap some thread around it. As you explore the wood, look for natural items to remind you of your adventure. A feather might remind you of beautiful birdsong, while a leaf might help you remember a tree you climbed. Tuck your treasures into the thread to keep them safe, then at the end of your adventure use them to share stories about what you’ve seen and done.

Wind chimes

Collect a handful of long, straight sticks to make your own woodland wind chime. Simply paint the sticks, tie some string around each one and hang them from a branch. Now listen… The wood makes a lovely, soothing sound as the sticks knock together in the breeze.

Twig towers

Get inspired by environmental artists like Andy Goldsworthy and create a natural sculpture in the woods. To get started, gather some sticks and fallen branches. Lay your biggest sticks in a square or triangle shape on the ground, then add more and more twigs on top to build up your tower.

Stick weaving

Use a forked stick as a nature loom to make a woodland decoration. Tie some wool to your twig and wind it around in a zig-zag pattern – this is your loom. Now keep your eyes peeled for natural treasures. Weave in fallen seeds, leaves, feathers and other natural items. It’s fun to try this craft in different seasons as it will look different every time.

Stick man

Make a stick man by laying out twig arms, legs and a body on the ground. Search for leaves and grass to make the hair, and find seeds and flower petals for the eyes, nose and ears. Why not make a whole family of stick people that look like your family?

Poohsticks

Have a go at Winnie the Pooh’s favourite game. Each player finds a stick then stands on a bridge over a stream or river. Everyone must drop their sticks into the water at the same time. (Make sure the water is flowing towards you so it carries your sticks under the bridge.) Now race to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick floats out first.

Drumsticks

Find a sturdy pair of sticks and a tree stump and you’ve got your own woodland drum. Tap out a beat – can you hear the noise change as you drum on different parts of the stump? Experiment on hollow trunks, fallen logs, rocks and railings to create different sounds.

Catapult

Find a strong forked twig and tie a length of elastic to each side (a snipped elastic band is ideal). Use your catapult to ping berries or rolled up balls of grass at a row of pine cones.

Pair of antlers

Pretend you’re a stag living in the woods. Find some sticks that look like antlers and hold them up to your head. Then strut proudly or leap gracefully through the trees.

Whittling

Introduce kids to woodcraft with simple whittling projects such as a marshmallow fork or a magic wand. Beginners can use a vegetable peeler to strip the bark, then sand the stick down until it’s smooth. Discover more tips in our whittling blog.

Family exploring a wood together

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