Join me on my quest to keep a toddler entertained in my garden and home, with nature as our inspiration, and with fun (and a bit of learning!) as our goal. My 2½ year old will test out these simple and easy-to-do-at-home activities; we will let you know the results, and would love to hear how you get on, too. I will offer some Outdoor Learning Top Tips on how to adapt the activities for older children, and suggest what skills each activity helps you and your child explore. All the activities are simple, use mostly things you will find in and around your home, and will be free, and will hopefully help to keep you both entertained (and sane!) a they have done for me. Enjoy!
An accidental stick pet!
As anyone with children will know, things do not always go to plan. This accidental stick pet came out of a different activity we set out to do, but turned into this. Not something I had thought of, but turned out to be an absolute win, so we decided to share it with you 🙂
Fine Motor Skills
What you’ll need:
- A stick
- Some string or wool (or any type of cord)
- Anything you have to decorate it – we used buttons
Find a suitable stick with your toddler – let them choose if they are old enough and understand.
Decide which will be the head end, and which will be the tail (or add a tail!). Tie the string around the sticks ‘neck’ (wherever you decide that to be) and your pet stick will start to come to life. Buttons for eyes (or googly eyes if you have them) really start to add character. We had a button that looked like butterfly wings for ours, but you really can use just about anything.
More string for legs, paper, card or material off-cuts for wings, the options are endless. If your child really gets into this, why not make a few pets? What are their names, and where do they live?
Top tips (and what we learnt along the way):
- For younger ones, you might have to do a lot of the ‘design’ work. Don’t be put off by this, the end result will still be really entertaining!
- Take your stick pet on an adventure once its made, whether it be around the house or garden, or maybe even out on an exercise walk!
As soon as we tied the string around the stick (in preparation for the activity we had planned – watch this space for a stick mobile!) Oscar instantly took to dragging the stick around by its ‘lead’. Once I put eyes on it, there was no going back. Our family had officially adopted a new pet…
Oscar thoroughly enjoyed letting the stick drink from a bucket, and eat some food. The role play opportunities were endless. The length of the stick we chose happened to drag quite comically on the ground behind Oscar, and made it seem really life-like.
For older ones –
- Take a bit more time choosing a stick. Let them find one that already has pet-like characteristics, or features they think they can work with and enhance.
- Can you make a few sticks with different adaptations that live in different habitats? Perhaps you have a water stick that can swim or breath underwater; a climbing stick that lives in the trees; a stick that is adapted to only come out at night? Maybe even a pet stick that can fly!
Sarah and Oscar x
Thank you to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for support with this content.