Outdoor literacy: Letters from Sticks!

25 November 2011 · 9 comments

in Literacy Outdoors

Okay, last week I blogged about sticky letters. This week it’s letters made from sticks. I blame one child. I passed him in the corridor whilst I was carrying a pile of sticks. His face lit up and he asked if they were for his class. So I told him that the next time I was there, the sticks would be with me too.

We began with the story of Stick Man. This set the scene for choosing our own stick from the pile I’d brought along. Each person (including Fred the Ted) had to find the letter that matched their name and attach this to their stick. Each one has a hole drilled in it at the top – they came like this from Cosy – an education resource company (tel: 01332 987005)

To get across the message about holding sticks carefully, we came up with the chant “Sticks are down. Down with sticks.” This seemed to make a difference as the children enjoyed tapping out the rhythm as we walked along.

When we came to a stopping point identified by one child, it was time to try and make each letter using sticks. I did have a stash in my bag owing to time pressures, but gathering sticks would work better as the activity would have more relevance to each child and give them an opportunity to explore their environment. However, this is a bigger challenge for another day.

This was a challenging activity for all the children. The idea of making letters from sticks was novel and new. With support they managed this activity.

Back inside, we followed up this activity by making the same letters but using lolly sticks instead. The twigs we did gather were used as decoration and the display left on the table. This was to allow children to make crayon rubbings later on that day if they wanted to.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna C November 25, 2011 at 18:20

I love this idea & Stick man is a favourite of mine too! I am so impressed by your creativity with natural resources & I bet the children always beam when they see they coming!


Mama Pea Pod November 25, 2011 at 21:12

More brilliant outdoor learning! Fantastic!


Juliet Robertson November 25, 2011 at 22:16

Thanks – nice feedback. It’s pretty much just following what the children are interested in and extending this in different ways.


xelaboy November 27, 2011 at 08:37

Juliet – this is a very cool activity. I think I’ll be trying this out with our guys when we’re in our next ‘sticky’ venue. I like the chant too. It reminds me of one my dad (a Scot) taught us as Cubs – ‘never cut toward your thumb, always cut toward your chum, you can never get another thumb, but you can always get…..’ You fill in the rest. Cheers from Canada.


Juliet Robertson November 27, 2011 at 11:35

What a funny saying – I rather think children would like this! The children with whom I work need simple chants and songs to help them remember.


den November 27, 2011 at 16:04

love blog.
Need help. New head hell bent on sanitizing early years garden. Usual story spend money NOW. We need to back up our passion for natural playscape with catalogues of picture from firms. Tracking down firms proving difficult in short space of time. Plenty will come and quote but need to make a display board of our ideas. Not as easy as you think. Any ideas would be welcome.


Juliet Robertson November 27, 2011 at 16:34

Hi Den

Firstly your local authority will have lists of approved contractors. Look for the ones who do landscaping and check out their wildlife and play credentials.

Next the big play company that really gets natural play is Richter Spielgerate – a German company. Their UK partner is Timber Play: http://www.timberplay.com/product.asp?id=170

Go to the RoSPA website for all the play equipment specifications like how to manage sand with no cover (its easy and more healthy – the dangerous sand is the stuff that’s covered up, wet and never played with)

Finally it’s worth contacting your arts development officer and seeing if there are artists or sculptors who can assist you and do it as a class project .

If you go to my website – the official one – http://www.creativestarlearning.co.uk you’ll find my email at the foot of each page. Contact me this way if it’s easier.

Best wishes


Your Therapy Source Inc November 27, 2011 at 19:24

Love the Stick Man book – so fun to read this time of year.


den November 28, 2011 at 20:24

Thanks for tips and taking time to answer.
Keep up good work.


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