Stick Sculptures

What can you make out of sticks?

The first thing to figure out is how to attach sticks to each other. This is a puzzle for you to solve.
Here are some ideas:

sticks wire elastics yarn tape
  • Pipe cleaners to wrap around the sticks
  • Wire wrapping
  • Playdough or plastercine to ‘stick‘ the sticks
  • Yarn or string to tie them
  • Masking tape to tape them
  • Elastics to wrap them

Some ideas grown ups might use:

  • Drill holes and whittle ends
  • Hot glue

In my backyard we used elastics, yarn, scissors and my clippers so we could cut them to length. Using yarn means you have to learn to tie a knot. I know many of you know how to tie knots because you learned with me and Miss Matthia. For those of you who don’t know how to tie a knot yet you can learn how here at

If you don’t get it at first, try try again!

When I learn a new knot I mess it up LOTS and LOTS of times before I learn to do it properly.

Practice a little in your house tying knots around chair legs or felts or pencils. When you’ve got it you’re ready to head outside with your yarn and scissors and find some sticks!

To the grownups:

This can be setup as a tinker tray in your kitchen or backyard inviting your child to puzzle it out and get creative! If you are new to tinker trays you can read all about what they are and why they are awesome for little creative minds here at Little Learners.

My youngest really struggled with this at first because I approached it wrong. I told him we were going to make sculptures and he really wanted to make a car :/ oops. So….learning from my mistake keep it more open ended or ask if they can make simple shapes like a triangle or square. Some children might really like to make a letter from their name.

Once I opened it up and added some more materials (we started with just yarn and scissors) he really got going and got excited about his creations.

I did have to show him how to wrap an elastic and get two fingers in it to make space. I also had to remind him how to twist the wire/pipe cleaner to ‘lock’ it into place. Then he was good to go.

This is a VERY open-ended project so some children who are used to making specific things might struggle to get creative. That’s ok! If they end up with a pile of sticks wrapped together in a ball – perfect. Paint it and hang it in a tree. This will support their creativity and encourage them to try again. You can bridge in skills as they go.

We are going to paint our creations and then hang them in the yard.

Make sure you take a picture of your sculpture and share it with me and all your friends.

Aluminum Foil Collage

Painting on tinfoil is a little bit novel so hopefully this project will engage some of our more reluctant arts and crafts friends. It’s also a lovely sensory experience so be sure to let the toddlers join in.
The tinfoil will rip and tear if it is rubbed aggressively with anything sharp or hard so be sure to use a big fat brush or a sponge for the glue. Personally a glue sponge is my favorite way to apply glue or using watered down white glue with a brush also works. Feel free to add a drop of paint to your glue for a bit of extra fun.

tinfoil canvas glue tissue paper paintbrush

You will need:

  • Cardboard wrapped with aluminum foil
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper
  • Small cup or tray of glue (or glue sponge)
  • Paintbrush (if using a cup of glue)
  • Sequins or glitter

Optional things to add more depth to your collage

  • Hole punch (to hole punch card stock)
  • Card stock
  • Felt
  • Fabric

Set up the materials in an inviting and attractive way. If your child is new to art maybe add the first few pieces of tissue paper in front of them and then offer them the opportunity to continue.

Let them freely explore and create a beautiful shiny masterpiece!

Extend it!

  1. Have your child wrap and tape their own tinfoil canvas.
  2. Let your child cut their own paper pieces.
  3. Encourage them to add layers and overlap the pieces or even smush up the pieces and make it 3D!

Painted Pasta Beads

Macaroni necklaces are a tried and true time honored classic activity. My 6 year old wore his pasta bead necklace until he forgot to take it off in the shower and it crumbled. This extension on the activity came from the lovely Kate at Picklebums.

Your child can paint the pasta before or after threading it’s up to you. It will probably be a little less messy if they do it after.

pasta noodles and thread

You will need:

  • Threadable Pasta – macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, penne
  • Piece of yarn long enough to fit around your child’s head plus some extra just in case.
  • Masking tape
  • Tempra Paint
  • Paint brushes (one for each colour of paint)

I like to start by setting my child up for success and a yes space.
This means covering the immediate area (chair, table, floor) with plastic or newspaper or some form of drop cloth so you aren’t stressing about spills.

I also am likely to tape the end of the yarn to the table or tie a piece of pasta to the end of it. This stops the pieces from coming off the end and ruining all your little one’s hard work.

Lightly tape the end of the yarn with a piece of masking tape so it is stiff and will thread through the pasta a little more easily.

Put the pasta in a bowl and you are ready to go!

When it comes time to paint less is more or your pasta will get soggy so choose a smaller brush and offer a small amount of paint.

Personally I like offering just two primary colours so that any mixing that happens results in a colour theory learning opportunity.

Make sure your child knows they’ll need to let the creation dry before wearing it!

Toddler Adaptation

If your toddler can’t quite master the yarn and pasta you they can use straws instead.
Or stick the straws in a lump of play dough for your toddler to thread the pasta onto.

Nature Portrait Scavenger Hunt

In this invitation we will gather some materials in the backyard and then bring them inside to create a self portrait. You’re going to want to send them to where they can actually find a cottonwood tree.

You will need:

  • container for collecting
  • Parts of a Cottonwood – scavenger hunt list
  • a mirror
  • a dry erase marker (optional)
  • a piece of cardstock
  • a pencil (optional)
  • white glue (watered down 1:3 water:glue)

There is a list in your kit this week but if you need another you can download the printable here it was created by my talented daughter who you can follow on Instagram here. She takes commissions and makes beautiful art..

Send your child off with their and the sheet and while they are gone set up the remaining materials in an organized way, leaving room for your child’s container when they return.

Toddler Adaptation

Instead of giving your toddler a list you could have them find the matching items already in an egg carton.
Fill the back 6 spaces of an egg carton with items easily found in your yard and ask them to find something just like they have to put in the front spaces.

I saw this lovely idea at Toddler At Play

A self portrait is a very introspective activity that is perfect for little ones because it focuses on the most important person in their world – themselves!
Looking in a mirror at yourself and deciding what material to use for each of your features, which parts you capture is a way for you to gain insight on how they see themselves.

Read More at Journey into Inquiry – Reggio: Examining Self Portraits

When your child returns invite them into their work space and ask them to create a picture of themselves.

If they’d like to practice they can trace their face on the mirror with the dry erase marker.

They can also draw their face on the card stock before beginning with the natural materials.

Encourage them to play with making their face happy or sad or angry or laughing before gluing any pieces down. When they are happy a little white glue and a paint brush will allow them to spread the glue where they’d like to stick their nature pieces.

Remember the purpose is in the play not the product. The point isn’t to have a nature face to hang on your wall. The point is to engage your child in exploring their inner and outer world more deeply; to support their learning how to recognize their own facial features and expressions.