Stick Fun: How to Transform a Stick into an Adventure With Your Kids
Do your kids hesitate at going outside to play?
Want to find out how to use a stick to inspire creativity and get your kids running for the door?
To learn how to transform a stick into an adventure with your kids, I interview Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks for this episode of the Parenting Adventures podcast.
More About This Show
The Parenting Adventures podcast is a show from My Kids’ Adventures.
It’s for parents (and grandparents) who are looking for creative things to do with their kids.
The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).
In this episode, I interview Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks, authors of seven books, including The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do With a Stick, as well as The Wild Weather Book and The Wild City Book. They are both experts in helping kids connect with the outdoors. They blog at GoingWild.net.
Jo and Fiona share ways to use a stick to get your kids excited about going outside for an adventure.
You’ll discover why it’s important for kids to play outside and how playing with sticks can help with creativity and highlight the importance of our environment.
Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!
Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:
How Jo and Fiona came to write books about outdoor activities for kids
Jo and Fiona met on a preschool playground about 18 years ago, when their young sons became best friends. They soon discovered they had a similar mission in life: to help kids develop a love of being outside.
Jo worked in educational psychology before she transitioned to photography, and Fiona came from an ecology background and worked in environmental education.
Back then, they both had a passion for the outdoors, and thankfully it’s something they’ve been able to pass onto their kids.
They soon discovered that other kids didn’t have the same opportunities. They wanted to show other parents the different, fun outdoor things that are available, even when time and money are limited.
You’ll discover the types of things you have to say to your kids to tempt them to run for the door and have some outdoor fun.
Whether you’ve got 20 minutes or 3 hours, there are really fun things you can do with no preparation. You definitely have to make sure that it’s fun, otherwise your kids won’t want to do it again.
Fiona explains that the The Stick Book was a joint idea, and their reason for choosing this topic to write about.
The approach was to be as broad as possible, with the hope that it would appeal to as many people as possible.
Listen to the show to find out how they combined their backgrounds to write The Stick Book.
Why it’s important for kids to explore outside
Fiona shares the variety of benefits kids get when they play outside and how you can get kids past their resistance to outdoor activities.
The challenge to get kids outside has become increasingly difficult. The number of electronic devices kids have available now makes it more tempting to stay indoors.
Once you get them outside, they realize how much fun it can be. Not only do they have great adventures, but they also expand their creativity.
You’ll discover the lessons that kids learn when they climb a tree, and why this can help them do better in school.
Outside exploration is also critical for the environment, because without the environment we can’t exist. Our kids must explore our diverse world, and understand biodiversity and ecology, so they care about it and keep it alive in the future.
Jo and Fiona feel that when kids play in nature and have fun, they create cherished memories, understand what’s happening around them and how their actions affect the world.
Listen to the show to find out why balance between tech and the environment is important.
Fun with sticks
In 2008, the Museum of Childhood in New York selected the stick as one of the toys for its National Toy Hall of Fame. This was one of the sources of inspiration that Jo and Fiona used to write The Stick Book.
The curators at the museum believe that a stick is a fantastic starting point for so many imaginary games and adventures.
Stick play is one of Jo and Fiona’s favorite activities. It’s simple, and you can do it anywhere, any season.
First you need to encourage your child to find a stick—or even better, let the stick choose them.
They can look to see if they can find eyes or a face on the stick. It encourages them to imagine what the stick could be. One way is to turn it into a doll or a mythical creature by adding other natural materials such as leaves, twigs, flowers, seeds, feathers, etc. You can use clay or modeling dough to attach items to a stick.
You’ll hear about what type of sticks kids need to look out for, what they turn them into and the creatures they can create.
For example, at a literary festival, Jo and Fiona had kids find sticks and then create characters that they would later write about in a story. This activity opens up your child’s imagination.
Listen to the show to learn how to choose the right stick.
How to have fun with lots of sticks
Jo and Fiona explain a variety of ways that kids can play with a lot of sticks. You can make large dens or miniature dens for fairies, elves or other imaginary creatures.
When their sons were younger, they would spend hours collecting twigs and then make little houses or castles for their elves. As they got older, their little houses got more intricate. They’d even make functional bows and arrows that were just a few centimeters long.
Like many outdoor projects, stick fun can take as little or as much time as you have. There are no rules for stick building. Preparation time should be minimal and totally flexible.
You’ll discover the amount of time you should spend in the beginning to avoid discouraging your kids and the types of questions you should ask to motivate them.
A fun adventure you can do as a family is to build a stick tower castle. All you need is a bunch of sticks of similar length and some string. The idea is to see who can build the tallest freestanding tower.
Listen to the show to find out the benefits of team stick building.
How to have fun with sticks if you live in the city
Another of Jo and Fiona’s books, The Wild City Book, gives ideas for how you and your kids can explore the natural world if you live in the city.
They found that depending on where you live, you may have more opportunities to explore wildlife in the city than in the countryside.
For example, if you live in a particular city that has a lot of parks and open green spaces that are publicly accessible, you have more options than if you live somewhere that’s intensively farmed with very few rights of way and very few parks.
You don’t even need to leave your home to explore wildlife with your kids. Jo and Fiona share activities you can do, even if you have just a balcony or a window box.
Listen to the show to learn more ways to attract wildlife to your patio, garden or balcony.
The story behind the Parenting Adventures podcast
I’m a dad with three girls, ages 12, 9 and 6. Last year, we were on a trip to Disneyland when I had a major realization that I need to spend more time with them.
Watch the video to learn more about the idea behind My Kids’ Adventures.
My Kids’ Adventures was launched in July 2013. The mission is to help you overcome the “I’m bored” complaint you hear from your kids. It’s about bringing fun back to the family.
To date we’ve had more than 400,000 people visit the site. We help moms, dads and grandparents find creative things to do with kids anywhere—inside, in the backyard and in the great outdoors.
A year after the launch of My Kids’ Adventures, I realized that I had a lot of idle time when I’m out walking or in my car driving to and from work. I wanted to use this time to learn from other people who have figured out how to combine work and quality time with their kids.
I knew that I could do this by listening to podcasts. Being a podcaster for my other show, the Social Media Marketing podcast, I knew I wanted to create a podcast that would not only help me change my life with my kids, but help others too.
This podcast is designed for you to be inspired by super-parents and childhood specialists.
Here’s what you can expect:
- Carefully selected guests who will inspire you with ways to have fun with your kids
- Awesome and easy activities you can do with your kids
I hope you’ll join me on this journey.
Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.
Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:
- Connect with Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks on their website and on Twitter.
- Visit GoingWild.net for weekly screen-free challenges, which are simple activities that anyone can go out and do.
- Check out Jo and Fiona’s books: The Stick Book, The Wild City Book and The Wild Weather Book.
- Read more about why a stick was chosen for the National Toy Hall of Fame.
- Try geocaching and an outdoor photo scavenger hunt to tempt your technology-minded kids outside.
- Listen to Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” song.
Ways to subscribe to the Parenting Adventures podcast:
What do you think? What are your thoughts on having your kids play with sticks? Please leave your comments below.
Images from iStockPhoto.
I am a dad of three kids, the founder of My Kids' Adventures and the founder of Social Media Examiner. I also host the Parenting Adventures podcast. Other posts by Michael Stelzner »