Create a Journey Stick
Autumn days are perfect for getting outside, crunching leaves and noticing the seasons change. They are also ideal for marking your adventure by creating a journey stick.
Journey sticks were first created by Aboriginal people in Australia to help them recount the events of their journey. Native Americans used sticks in similar ways, for storytelling and sharing their experiences.
Journey sticks are a fantastic tool for engaging with the natural environment – especially in the autumn months when there are so many leaves, berries and seed husks to be seen and collected.
Here’s a simple guide to creating your own journey sticks:
1. Choose your stick
Finding the right stick is a perfect way to start your adventure. For shorter journeys, choose a shorter stick so you don’t have lots of bare sections. You can either decide to create a group journey stick, or make individual ones. As long as the stick doesn’t snap easily, it will serve its purpose.
Before you go out, take some wool or elastic bands so you can tie finds from your journey to the stick easily. You may also want to take paper and crayons so you can add words or pictures inspired by what you see.
For younger children you may want to use paper or card with double-sided sticky tape instead of a stick to make it easier to attach and see the items you collect. It will serve the same purpose as a record of your journey.
2. Go on your journey
As you walk, take time to notice what’s around you. Pick up mementoes that will help you remember where you walked. These can be the exact things you see – for example if you walk past some sycamore trees you might collect the helicopter seeds.
Or you might choose objects to help you remember events on your journey – for example if you saw a squirrel eating conkers you might collect a horse chestnut leaf to remind you. Or if you had to wade through a muddy patch you might dip a bit of the stick in some mud.
Be as creative as you like with your objects and your memory prompts – it’s all about making the journey special to you.
Add the items to your stick in the order you experienced them – this will help you tell the story of your journey from beginning to end when you get home.
3. Tell your story
An important part of the journey stick is using it to help you share your experience of your walk. When you get back home, take turns in telling your story of what happened, explaining why you collected each item on your stick and what it represents. This helps children engage with the world around them and add their own meaning to their experiences.
The journey stick can then be kept as a record, maybe as a piece of sculpture (outdoors if it’s very mucky!). Over time you can create a number of different journey sticks and see if you can remember which journey each stick represents. If you create journey sticks at different points throughout the year, they can become a beautiful record of the changing seasons.
Don’t forget to wrap up for your walks as the cooler weather sets in. Our hats, socks, scarves and gloves are sure to keep little ones cosy on their adventures!