Today in our 31 Days of Learning event, we are exploring a simple whittling activity for kids, courtesy of Sun Hats and Wellie Boots. Whittling is a fabulous nature activity for kids to get creative. If you’re introducing it to children for the first time then this is a great activity for them to start off with. Not only does this simple whittling activity for kids offer children a simple way to explore the process of wood carving and create something from a local natural resource, but it also enables them to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while exploring new materials and tools.
Simple whittling activity for kids
These little eco-friendly plant markers are ideal to make ready to add to any Spring garden or planter. To make them, simply collect any fallen sticks or thin branches from your outdoor area. Any sticks can be used for this activity as long as they’re fairly fresh from the tree, dry and clean.
What We Used
Instead of using knives we’ve used vegetable peelers. This enables new whittlers an opportunity to explore mark-making in the wood; whilst keeping the sharp blade away from their fingers. The handle of the peeler also allows children to hold the tool firmly and securely. This helps as they explore how much pressure is needed to cut the wood and how best to manipulate it.
Word of warning though; cheaper peelers tend to break easily when pressure is applied.
Before sharing this activity always remember to explain how to hold the wood safely with fingers tucked to the sides. Also explain that the peeler should always be moved in a ‘push stroke’ away from the body. It’s also safer to have the children sitting down and not too close together so they have plenty of room to create. (Whittling should always be done on a solid surface or table, never on your legs.)
This simple whittling activity for kids has no limitations, each stick can be carved as uniquely as the child chooses. Some sticks may be completely stripped bare of bark, while others may have a mixture of textures. What’s important is that the child has freedom to create and explore.
We used beech wood and it took a few attempts to strip away the bark. But as we did so we were able to slowly discover the hidden patterns within the wood. It can be tempting to try and cut a deep section of wood in one movement. But try and encourage children to be patient, applying a little pressure and removing small pieces of bark is better than pressing down too hard and getting the peeler stuck or broken.
To transform the whittled sticks into plant markers, invite children to write the name of a plant they’re growing in their home/school garden. Then add your marker alongside the plant outdoors.
I’ve shared this activity a few times in an after school setting with children 6yrs+ and they’ve always loved creating their own whittled designs. They’ve also been completely focused while making them. Such a neat way to encourage fine motor skills while exploring natural materials!
If you’re looking for more nature crafts and activities hop on over to https://www.sunhatsandwellieboots.com where you’ll find oodles of ideas for every season.