Not a Stick

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This month’s book celebrates creativity, imaginative play, and the ability to see the possibilities in even the most mundane things–qualities that young children can be so good at given the space and freedom to just play. Our toddlers (2 1/2 to 3 year olds) are at the phase when pretend and imaginative play really blossoms. My son loves to take bites of his waffle, look at it and then tell me what it looks like, “It’s a dinosaur, roar. Now it’s a rocket. Zoom. Now it’s the Eiffel Tower.” He (and the other kids in our group) are beginning to think much more abstractly about things than ever before. Antoinette Portis’ book, Not a Stick and it’s prequel Not a Box capture the joy of pretending wholeheartedly that (as aptly titled) a stick or a box is something else.

Portis’ minimalist story and illustrations show the main character pretending a stick is a fishing pool, a baton, and a paint brush, for example, while demanding to the narrator throughout the book that the stick is “NOT a stick!”

While tempting to mimic the simplicity of this book and just give our book club kids some sticks to play with, we decided that a bunch of 2 1/2 to 3 year olds running around with branches was a recipe for injury, so instead, we opted to use popsicle sticks. In the spirit of turning a “stick” into something it’s not, we made simple (and I do mean SIMPLE) popsicle stick airplanes. Every child got two full sized popsicle sticks, half of a popsicle stick, and four glue dots. One full sized popsicle stick became the body of the plane, the other full sized popsicle stick was attached using the glue dots perpendicularly to  the body at one end to create the front wings, and the half stick was attached at the other end to create the rear wings. As soon as the planes were completed, the kids ran around (see? good thing we didn’t use “real” sticks…) making airplane sounds and “flying” their planes above their heads.

Snack time was “not a stick”…it was a pretzel (stick) that also happened to double as an edible paint brush! Our paper plates were cut into the shape of  mini palettes ahead of time. On each palette, the kids received a dollop of 4 different colors of jelly/jam “paint” (red = strawberry, orange = apricot, green = mint, purple = grape) and a pretzel stick. “It’s not a stick…it’s a pretzel paint brush,” we told the hungry toddlers! We explained that they could paint with the jelly/jam on their plate and then eat when they were ready. Most of the kids spent a lot of time with this snack both “painting” and eating! Several asked for more pretzel sticks! This clever snack idea came directly from Parents magazine:

Join us next week for our participation in the Virtual Book Club for Kids AND next month as we celebrate Dr. Suess’ birthday with One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. 

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One thought on “Not a Stick

  1. Pingback: Not a Chore.

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