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No. 12 Have fun with sticks

Young girl building a den at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
Young girl building a den at Sheffield Park and Garden | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart

From den building to making wands, there’s a lot of fun to be had with a simple stick – so much, that we made it no. 12 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ list. To help you get the most from your adventure, there’s a few useful hints and great ideas you should know, including what sticks to choose for your den or nature trail.

What do you want to do?

Before choosing your stick, you need to decide what you want to use it for. Do you want to create a trail of arrows for friends to follow? Or will you use your stick to make a home for wildlife? Perhaps you’d like to decorate it and use it as a wand?

Choose your stick

Now that you’ve decided what to create, you need to decide on what type of stick would be best. Think about how many you need (you’ll need a lot if you’re creating a trail or building a den).

If you’re building a den, you’ll need to hunt for lots of big, sturdy sticks tall enough to create a shelter.

For a trail, your sticks can be much smaller but maybe choose ones with an unusual colour or strip the bark from them in order to help your followers spot your arrows.

Pooh sticks can be any shape or size, so long as they float.

Den Building in Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery Area at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Den Building in Hoe Fen Wildlife Discovery Area at Anglesey Abbey | © National Trust Images/Antonia Gray

Make a wand

Can you create your very own wizard or witch's wand? What size and shape of wand do you want? Can you decorate with leaves and flowers? Or if you’re at the seaside, maybe add some shells?

If you have some paint or ribbon, you could transform your wand into a colourful creation. Maybe you can complete no. 18 of our ‘50 things’ by creating some wild art at the same time.

Make a trail with sticks

This is a great way to get friends and family to follow you around. You can gather up lots of sticks so that you can lay them on the ground in the shape of arrows. Can your arrows lead your followers to something amazing? Perhaps you could guide them to a secret glade? Or maybe you’ve discovered an unmissable view.

You could even turn your trail into a treasure hunt by bringing something to hide at the end.

Top tip

Put your arrows on paths or grass. This makes them much easier to see for your explorers, rather than leaving them on the floor of a forest already covered in twigs and sticks.

A small child is adding the finishing touches to a den at Fontmell and Melbury Downs, Dorset
Den-building at Fontmell and Melbury Downs | © National Trust Images/Clive Whitbourn

Build a home for wildlife

Lots of tiny creatures love to have a dry, safe place that they can hide away in. Can you create an insect hotel with your sticks? Choose lots of twigs, add some grass and other dead material from the ground such as leaves. Try to build your hotel in a tucked away spot where it will be safe and won’t be trampled upon.

Then you can leave knowing that you’ve helped wildlife and also achieved no. 36 of your ‘50 things’ challenge by making a home for wildlife.

These are some of our suggestions for having fun with sticks, but can you think of any great ideas that we've missed? If so, why not try it out today.

What else can I do with sticks?

The answer is lots! Check out a few of our other ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities involving playing with sticks: No. 4 Build a den, No. 18 Create some wild art, No. 19 Play Pooh sticks, and that’s not all of them.

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