This activity was included in our Nature’s Way Discovery Kit in summer 2020 for children ages 5-8. We are making one activity from each age group available for all to enjoy.


Story sticks are used to help recall a story about a trip, hike, or other special event. They can be made of walking sticks, rulers, dowel rods, or small sticks. They are used to place special items found along a journey. After the special journey or trip has taken place, the owner of the story stick can share their story and memories of the trip with other people. A story stick can be used again and again, or a new story stick can be used for each trip or journey taken. It all depends on what the owner of the story stick wants to do. During this activity, you will be using a story stick to record a journey.

Materials Needed

  • A stick with string attached to one end of it
  • A natural setting in which to take a walk or hike
  • Items found on a walk or hike


Story sticks are meant to be used while a person is on a journey somewhere. For this activity, you are encouraged to take a journey to a natural setting, such as your backyard, a local park, or another type of green space. As you explore the natural setting, place items that you find interesting and meaningful onto your story stick.

  1. Find a stick and attach a string to one end of it. Decide where you will go on your walk or hike.
  2. As you travel through your natural setting, explore the world around you. Use your senses to make observations.
  3. Find items to attach to your story stick that will help you remember your journey.
  4. Attach an item to your story stick. To do this, wrap the long string tightly around the item on the stick three or four times. This helps the string hold the item in place. It is best to start wrapping your items onto the string at the top of the stick and work down. There should be enough room on your stick to wrap four to five items (depending on the size of each item).
  5. Share your story stick with someone when you finish exploring your natural setting.

Ideas for Exploring Your Natural Setting

  • Stand in the shade and then in the sunlight in your natural setting. How are these locations similar and/or different?
  • Smell something in your natural setting: the soil, a flower, or the grass. What does it smell like?
  • Find something smooth, hard, and prickly in your natural setting. What did you find?
  • If you were a bird living in your natural setting, where would you live and why?
  • Pick up a handful of soil. What does it smell like? Describe how it feels.
  • Find a flower but don’t pick it. Is the stem long or short? Are the leaves wide or thin? Does the flower have a scent?
  • Find a tree and hug it for 30 seconds. How did this make you feel? Silly, relaxed, grateful?
  • Find something small or tiny. How do you think this object is able to stay safe and secure in your natural setting?

For other story stick ideas and an example of a completed story stick, visit Journey Sticks: An Active Learning Approach to Literacy.

Other Discovery Kit Activities