I can't think of a better toy than a stick. Really. Sticks can be imagined into anything, are typically pretty easy to find, and usually fit into the budget of a 3-10 year old. This week, our nature activities center around the under-appreciated stick:
How in the world do you teach your kid to whittle? Well, if you aren't a master whittler yourself, check out this simple guide to get started...you might even pick up a new hobby for yourself!
I mentioned that our kids have their own hiking poles. Though we are often finding hiking sticks on our adventures, having collapsible poles that can grow with your kids is a great addition to your hiking kit. Our poles are used for hiking all year long, and skiing in the winter. They are adjustable which means that we don't need to buy new ones as they continue to grow, and it makes it easier to collapse them down to carry in case they find a better stick on their hike. Since ski season is generally longer than hiking season here in the mountains, we bought ski poles and just use them for hiking as well:
When it comes to kids and nature...less is more. The more simple the tool...the more ways it can be used. As adults, we too often lose our sense of wonder and imagination and a stick is just a stick...something that doesn't belong in the house/garage/yard. We were all kids once, and we all could imagine a stick as a fishing pole, sword, wand, utensil, bridge...the possibilities are endless. If we slow down and pay attention, kids give us the amazing opportunity to re-imagine the world the way we did when we were little. What a gift.
Stay Wild and Free!