TeachingSpace - What to do - Sea Shore Sand - Journey Sticks

Journey Sticks

Birders on the sands

OBJECTIVE: to raise awareness of the natural environment through observation and creative process.

TIME: 2 hours. This activity can be divided into two parts, 45 minutes - 1 hour on-site collecting the 'evidence' and bagging it up. The making of the sticks could be done back at school, preferably out of doors.

LOCATION: exploring the reserve or during a walk.

YOU WILL NEED: bags for 'collecting' mementoes; lots of scissors; wool; some 'spare' sticks.

How to do it

Explore the site to be mapped. While you are walking around, collect mementoes of your journey. Look for places or things that stand out - exciting and secret places, and things that you would like to share with someone else. Find an attractive stick - this will form the base of your 'map'.

Once everyone has completed their journey, start binding wool and objects together onto your stick. Tell the story of your joourney and build up a map to make your 'journey stick'.

A journey stick is a personal record, but it is most effective when shared. Find a friend who went on a different journey, and swap stories - get to know the place through someone else's eyes.

The power of the journey stick lies in your personal ownership. It is your story, a colourful, personal and special record of your visit. It is unique.

Before the Activity

Useful ways of getting started:

Tell the story that

  • A journey stick is 'delivered' to school with a note from an old man who wants to share with the group the wonders of one of the nature reserves. He thinks the best idea is for them to go and create their own journey sticks of the place, and find out what a wonderful place it is.
  • Take some time to think about maps and journeys - what do they mean to us, as a society, and as individuals? Look at the different kinds of maps available - old ones, modern ones, mind maps, tapes, try maps etc.
  • Read some early travellers' journals such as David Livingstone, Scott or Shackleton. Spend some time researching native American Indian and Australian aboriginal cultures and their ways of recording journeys. In many ancient cultures (e.g. Australian aborigines) recording an event takes place in several different ways such as songs and stories, dance, drawings or tokens.

This activity is adapted from Gordon Maclellan's book Talking to the Earth.

Suggested follow up

Stay on site for a bit longer and take someone on a 'guided tour' with your journey stick.

Back at school, create a display of the site mapped out and interpreted using the journey sticks. Write to a descendant of the old man (reserve staff/ranger service) and ask them to come and visit the school and share the journey sticks.

Tell the story of your journey stick with an interview on a video camera.


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