A joyful part of my working day is taking the Lower Elementary students to Bridgeman Park and observing their lunchtime recess activities. The opportunity for them to play in nature, demonstrates just how creative and imaginative children can be.

Occasionally, adult direction is necessary to ensure everyone stays safe and plays at ease with his/her contemporaries. However, it never ceases to amaze me just how many games, pastimes and activities come and go throughout the school year. It is certainly part of their day which fulfils Maria Montessori’s idea that:

The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”

This poem emerged one day when I sat in a coffee shop after work and listed scores of activities I had seen the students create with the sticks they find in the park and considered the blanket ban on stick play that exists in many schools.

I invite you to read it to your children and see how many of the activities they recognize as their own.


Please Don’t Take Our Sticks Away

Please, don’t take our sticks away,

We’ll use them safely as we play,

We’ll never run or poke an eye,

Or shoot them so our friends will die.


They’ll be…

Anchors, antlers, airplanes,

Bridges, bats and bamboo canes,

Campfires set to tell a tale,

Dens created for a snail,

Elfin staves, exploring groves,

Fishing rods, “A shark just dove!”

Giant trains with us zip by,

Hotels that will gratify,

Intergalactic rocket ships,

Javelins thrown with mossy grips,

Kayak paddles held up high,

Lightning bolts from stormy sky,

Mandalas made on Mothers’ Day,

Please, don’t take our sticks away.


Nests of twigs and mud and leaves,

Ornaments for Christmas trees,

Pole volts, paint brushes and pestles,

Queenly crowns of twigs and petals,

Rafts that float on puddle lakes,

Stars and shakers we can make,

Tepee challenge, “Who’s the highest?”

Unicorn dress up for the shyest,

Vans that come to redwood mines,

Water witches seeking signs,

Xylophones in boughs of trees,

Yachts that sail into the breeze,

Zoos to house our bug display,

Please, don’t take our sticks away.