Parks and green spaces do not always seem inviting, they can at times feel a little unwelcoming to children and adults.

Here are some simple ways to make your walk through a park more fun and help you explore the plants and trees that grow there.

Make a Map stick – or Story stick.

Prepare for this by bringing some pieces of wool or string from home. At the park look around for a strong, short stick (measure from your finger to elbow). Then tie some of the wool/string onto the end of the stick –so it looks like a little fishing rod. You are now ready to wander – keeping your eyes open for interesting leaves, grasses or other treasure that can be picked up and tied to your stick. Avoid “picking” leaves or flowers, leave these for everyone to enjoy - you will usually find some on the ground.

As you wrap your finds to the stick you can add more wool or string to create a collection of items which become the “map” of your journey through the park.

This is not a race ! It’s a way of slowing down, looking around and wandering. It’s fun to stop for a rest or a cuppa, to sit and re-tell the story of your collection – this way it is really a “story-stick”.

Variations

A piece of three strand “sisal” string can also become a ”story string”. Just cut a piece (finger to elbow) and untwist the strands to slot in your “treasure”.

For younger children you could prepare some strips of cardboard and use scissors to cut slots in the edges. They can then slide their treasure into the slots. Or if you have double sided tape, then place a strip of this onto the cardboard- and peel off gently as you add leaves etc.

Inspiration from the oldest civilisation

The idea for making a Story stick is drawn from the oldest civilisation on earth - Australian aboriginal (First Nations) people. They would use sticks to record their journeys across the country. Information such as good camp spots, food or water sources could be marked on a stick over a journey of many miles and many moons.

A little caution !

In 21st century London we just need to be aware- and remind children - when picking natural material from the ground to avoid dog mess or broken glass. Naturally scratchy brambles and stinging nettles are also best avoided !

 

Rich Sylvester – Green Space Guide and Storyteller

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