Monday, 2 May 2016

Project 13 Map Sticks and Memory Mobiles plus Book #Giveaway

Map Stick Activity

A certain storybook tale tells of a wicked stepmother who took Hansel and Gretel deep into the forest, and that the two left a trail of breadcrumbs behind them, so if they ever managed to escape, they could follow their trail back home. Unfortunately, the plan wasn't fool proof

Whereas, it is said that the Native Americans would map a stick to record their forest trek one way, and use it to navigate the same route when returning

Here is a Let's Go Outside type of activity you can do with the child(ren) while walking a woodland trail (one which you intend to retrace steps back). It involves picking or taking a cutting or two of the natural flora and fauna growing around you. It may be useful to have a pocket knife or a pair of secateurs for adult use only. Remember to be respectful of the environment as you go 

  • First of all everyone needs to source a large stick or small section of branch from the forest floor for themselves (removing any leaves or green offshoots attached)

Stick 1

  • Now, as you start the walking trail, get the child(ren) to observe the vegetation growing around and encourage them to be drawn to those eye catching examples of large patches of colour appearing in and amongst the greenery (like these dainty blue flowers below) then carefully pick a few stems of the blue and wrap about an inch wide around the bottom section of your stick. See Stick 2

Stick 2

  • So you're quickly getting the idea. Where swathes of colour are noticeable, as you're rambling along: stop, pick, wrap and tie to the next section of your stick adding a variety of different plant specimens. See Stick 3 and Stick 4

Stick 3

Stick 4

  • You may come across shrubbery, bushes, or trees, that have unusual leaves (like the maple in the picture below) and some trees may be in blossom. If the child(ren) is able to identify low hanging thin shoots that would wind and bend around a stick easily, then you can detach a very small cutting using a pocket knife/secateurs for them. If you've nothing with you to cut or snip, leave alone and don't remove if it is going to be in any way damaging if you were to start tugging and pulling See Stick 5 and Stick 6

Stick 5

Stick 6

And that's it! You have your map stick! So to use it, the child(ren) needs to follow the colour code that has been created (in reverse). As you make your return along the woodland pathways already travelled, look out for those familiar openings, and the copses already explored; and you might, again, trip over those same creepers that trapped your feet the last time! All should remember better, each twist, and turn, because the nature trail followed on the outward bound walk, will speak to and be more memorable and meaningful for your own little wilderness explorer(s) as he/she/they head on back

There are variations to this activity. Another idea is where you do not need to scrape your samples from the environment (though every participant will need a large stick once again). What is also required, on your walk through the countryside, is a bag full of small pieces of wool, embroidery type threads, or insulating tape in a wide mix of different colour shades. What a child does this time, is colour match a shade of yarn, thread, or tape, with that seen in nature and wrap and tie around the stick, in sections, in order, from the bottom to the top, so, again, it'll be a colour coded stick that will make navigational sense to the young person

 Memory Mobile Activity

I found this Memory Mobile project on pages 32 and 33 of a children's title called Let's Go Outside The book is full of Nature/Outpacker related activities (Outpacker being the preferred term used by the authors). The book contains suggestions for outdoor games, nature crafts, and skill sharing tips.

The Memory Mobile is an activity for the younger end of the middle grade age scale, because there are small pieces involved and the attaching can be fiddly. Younger children would definitely need adult support. The activity involves decorating a stick with nature finds. The child can prepare his or her stick, by first winding wool around it quite closely, or spread out more - leaving gaps, the child can wind in a criss-cross pattern if they wish. Suggest that they thread beads along their wool before they wrap it round the stick perhaps, or that they change the colour of the yarn to make it look more decorative

Now the stick is ready to take on those treasures, so what everyone should be looking out for, at low level or on the woodland floor, are tree seeds i.e. sycamore wings, seed husks; pine cones, acorns perhaps. Also, evergreen leaves of woodland plants or stems/flower heads that can remain intact once they've dried out (like rushes or wild grass heads). Tie the bits and bobs collected with thread or string of different lengths, or insert in a 'cage' made of garden wire first (if the thing happens to be a tricky shape). Insert these hang down pieces in to the back of the tight loops you have made across the length of the stick already, and knot it in place to attach 

When complete, hang down from a roof, ceiling or from some height as a mobile type decoration made of found items and lovely natural things.     

Let's Go Outside is also available for Amazon: 

Winner is: Hazel H from South Yorkshire

for a chance to win a new copy of Let's Go Outside (See below)
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