Get Outside with a Book: “Not a Stick” by Antoinette Portis

How often are young children drawn to the sticks lying around the yard or playground? And how often do we tell them to put it down, watch out, be careful? The book Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis reminds us of the power of imagination. The little bunny, while being given the typical cautions from an adult, imagines his stick to be all sorts of different things.

Take the book outside and read it together.  Then start searching for sticks!  When children find a stick, ask what it might be. Sure, at first it’s likely to imagine a sword (or a lightsaber, in our house). But model creative thinking (use the book if you’re stuck – a fishing pole or a horse, for example) by getting your own stick and coming up with ideas. Then let inspiration flow and keep going. Don’t just focus on naming objects, though, act it out! Does your magic wand make people walk like different kinds of animals? Is the tightrope for clowns or acrobats? Does the dance partner prefer fast or slow music?

To expand further, you can create your own version of Not a Stick! Take pictures of the children posing with their sticks as different objects. Print them out (black and white works best) and let your child draw their imagined scene over it. For younger children, have them dictate to you what the object and scene are, and write it on the back of the page.  Staple several pages together and you have a memory of an imaginative day.