Our Favorite Things : Popsicle Sticks
Hello, MiniBury! This is the first in a series of monthly columns that I’ll be writing for this site, called “Our Favorite Things.” The goal of this series: To share with your families some of our family’s favorite things. As much as possible, I hope to highlight things that are simple, inexpensive (or – better still – free!), local, and that promote creativity.
MiniBury is an online community for local families, and one of the best things about community is the ability to swap ideas! Because I spend a lot of time around young children, I’m going to use this space to share with you what we’re loving at the moment; please feel free to contact me or comment with your own ideas.
Here’s a little introduction to who I am, by way of my favorite things:
–My husband: He teaches economics at Middlebury College, and then he comes home and cooks dinner almost every night. He also makes a mean bowl of popcorn – another of my favorite things!
–My girls: We have four daughters, between the ages of three and nine. They are smart, funny, caring, and fierce. (I never understand it when people tell me that girls are “easier” than boys.)
–Vermont: We’ve lived in Middlebury since 2011, and I still can’t believe I get to live here. I’m already plotting ways to convince my daughters to stick around after they’re grown.
–Books: Our family reads a lot. Our favorite places in town are Ilsley Library and The Vermont Book Store.
–Fires: I love being cozy, and some of my best memories have happened around campfires, bonfires, and our home’s wood stove.
–Seasonal activities: Gardening and hiking in warmer weather; Nordic skiing and ice skating in the winter.
–My work: I don’t exactly have a “job,” but I homeschool our two oldest daughters, and I write for my blog (www.thepicklepatch.com) and the “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.
–Coffee, Scotch, and chocolate: No explanation needed.
Finally, the disclaimer: I am not in anyone’s pocket. I am not hawking wares or getting comped for any of the items I’ll highlight in these columns.
For our first “Favorite Thing,” I picked: popsicle sticks.
Yes, popsicle sticks!
Dirt cheap and available almost anywhere that sells anything crafty, popsicle sticks are the equivalent of creative gold at our house these days.
My children, like all children, love to create. When they were younger, my impulse was to buy pre-packaged crafts: coloring books, sticker books, and those bracelet/necklace/jewelry box/mosaic kits. It took me a while to realize that the best thing to do – the thing that would really hold their attention and inspire them to create independently – was to have a craft corner stocked with the basics: construction paper, drawing implements, pipe cleaners, clay, recycled cardboard (boxes, paper-towel & toilet paper rolls, etc.), glue (both plain and glitter glue– but never just lose glitter if you value your sanity!), and tape – lots and lots of tape.
This year for Christmas, my parents gave my daughters two boxes of popsicle sticks – one plain, one colored. Over the past month, those popsicle sticks have seen more action than all of the other Christmas toys, combined.
With no prompting from me, my children knew exactly what to do. They’ve used popsicle sticks to make puppets, dragons, kites, people on rafts, frames, and actual popsicles (all you need is juice, a cup, and a freezer!) One daughter created an innovative version of the “talking stick” for me: a cup filled with popsicle sticks, on which she’d written each of my daughters’ names, so that I can pick a stick to decide who gets to speak next. They’re also working on a “super-secret project” that I’m not supposed to know about, but I do: building and furnishing houses using only popsicle sticks.
Popsicle stick crafts often succeed best with white glue, which can be stressful and messy, especially if you have impatient and overzealous younger children. But the beauty is that the sticks can also be attached using tape, glue sticks, and string.
If your children are like mine, suggesting a specific craft at a set time virtually guarantees lethargy, whining, and frustration. However, if you’d like ideas for crafts to make with popsicle sticks, Pinterest is full of them, oryou can check out this site. Otherwise, grab a box of popsicle sticks, leave them out on a table, stand back, and enjoy watching your children create!