Posted: Jul 10 2014
Journey sticks have been used for a long time by many native peoples around the globe. They can help retell a story / journey with items that are collected along the way (feathers, leaves, twigs etc..) and are useful when navigating a new or unfamiliar route. You can etch symbols into the stick that represent land-marks on your journey or terrain such as a river, a forest, a valley, or anything else that will prevent you from losing your way on your return journey.
Today we rely heavily on e-maps and Sat Nav's. Without these aids, we could get lost unless we have an excellent memory. Journey sticks will help children recall the terrain as they travel and will help them in finding their way back. Not only is this an aid to memory and an excellent activity to engage children whilst walking, it will help boost their creativity, imagination and storytelling skills.
We've collected three 'journey stick' activities for you to enjoy with your children and the great thing is that all you need is some different coloured wool, a knife and a stick. We hope you enjoy trying these out!
Journey Stick Project #1 The next time you visit a park or a walking trail, find a good stick that will hold a few items, it doesn’t need to be the size of a walking stick, just a comfortable size for your child to carry with ease. Next, cut a few lengths of wool and tie at the top of the stick, these will be used to hold the items that you collect on your journey. Explain that the use of this stick will be to retell their journey (or adventure). As you travel your walking trail encourage them to notice their surroundings. If they find a feather, ask them to take note of where they picked it up, as this will help with their memory recall. At the end of their journey, take the stick home and let them use it to retell their adventure to someone who wasn’t there, perhaps another family member.
Journey Stick Project #2 Pick a trail ahead of time, one with lots of trees, maybe a stream, lake or hill. Once you are there you need to find a good stick, preferably one with bark that you can carve with a knife. At the start of your journey, find a landmark and make up a symbol that fits its description, for example if it’s a stream you can mark little waves. As you progress on your walk stop every now and then and find a new identifying landmark or change in terrain that you can record on your journey stick, it may also help to have them notice the sounds and smells of the area, too. At the end of the trail see if your child can use their stick to help find their way back to the start of their journey. *If you have older kids and they can safely use a pen knife, you can let them carve their own symbols, if you wish
Journey Stick Project #3 Ask your child to remember their favourite trip or holiday. Using any crafts supplies or little mementos from the trip, ask your child to attach items relating to thier trip onto their stick with wool. They can then use their journey stick to retell their holiday to a friend or member of their family. This is a perfect family project on a rainy Sunday afternoon, where you can take it in turns to retell your favourite journeys from the past.
We really enjoyed making our journey sticks and would love to know if you have a go!