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Sticks are, arguably, the number one toy of all time. Why? Reasons include that they are: plentiful, available in a variety of lengths and hefts, easy to gather (half the fun, really), portable, stackable, bang-able, throwable, and great to make things with. They morph easily into swords, stirrers, brooms, wands, antlers...you name it. There are virtually limitless ways to play with them. And, if you agree with the biophilia hypothesis that we are just wired to dig nature, kids are likely just wired to dig sticks.
So, how come some 0-2 year olds get really into stick play while others just pass sticks by? The reason is, in part, that kids just have different interests. However, given sticks’ truly universal appeal, it is largely because some kids are given the necessary access, modeling and space to play while others are not. As a parent of a wee one, it’s actually really easy to goof on one or more of these key conditions—we unwittingly do it all the time. Here’s a few tested ways to flip the script and unlock the stick player in your wee explorer.
Walking, stooping, grabbing and hauling sticks are all great ways to develop gross motor skills in young children. In addition to this body building, repeating the behavior of transporting objects around from place to place is actually one of a universal set of behaviors called behavioral schema which help to develop the brain. When you model the behaviors of looking around as well as picking up and exploring the objects around them, you are strengthening your kids' natural curiosity. Finally, by getting your wee one hooked on the all-powerful stick early on, you are introducing your child to a virtually endless “Top List” of things to play, imagine and make. What a gift!