My friend Etan, hearing that I was embarking on my 100 Days of Play, gave me a copy of the wonderful book Play the Forest School Way by Peter Houghton and Jane Worroll, who pioneered the outdoor learning-and-playing method of the Forest School movement. It’s filled with fun ideas, clearly targeted at kids, but which offer lots of food for thought for adults wanting to add some play into their time in nature.
I chose to make a ‘journey stick’ – following the Australian Aboriginal tradition of encoding memories of a trip onto objects attached to a stick. Cue lengths of twine, a failed search for rubber bands, and a sense of exploration!
First up once in the forest was a search for the perfect stick. I knew I didn’t want something so large as to be unwieldy, but it also needed enough space to attach a few things to it. Tom helped by picking up a few different options, and I eventually settled on a fairly straight one that I just needed to pare a few stray twigs off.
The first thing I attached was a small sprig of holly, whose green was bright and stood out against the stick. Then a couple of brown leaves – one skewered, one tied on. An acorn turned out decisively to be the hardest thing to attach with just twine to help me, but I succeeded. Some berries and an ivy leaf completed the array. Holly and ivy – how Christmassy!
With each item I stopped to remember something about the journey, and took those memories back with me. It certainly made me look around more, and pay attention to the different stages along the walk.
In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost – Dante Alighieri
Ease of play: 7/10
Resemblance to play: 8/10
Aggression: Low-to-Medium (there were thorns!)
Potential frequency of play: High (if you want, and live near the forest)