Twig Construction

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Each child will design and make a twig and leaf shelter. This is a terrific, open-ended nature-based activity.

By Catherine Bamess [Catherine is a teacher at East Manjimup Primary School in Western Australia]

What You Need:

  • plain paper
  • pencils
  • optional: small toys approx 4-5cm
  • dry twigs, leaves, etc
  • optional: hot glue guns and glue sticks
  • parent helpers to assist with the glue guns

What You Do:

  1. Discuss the concept of shelter and the sorts of things that can provide shelter. What sort of weather conditions can we shelter from?
  2. Each child selects a toy that they would like to make a shelter for.
  3. On the piece of paper they are to sketch out a plan of the shelter that they would like to make that would hold their toy. Encourage labeling e.g. twigs for floor, leaves for window covering, stilts to keep house dry if flooding. Stimulus pictures of frameworks may be useful.
  4. Share with others.
  5. Children collect dry plant matter.
  6. The children begin assembling their “bits.” The only thing the teacher and/or parents should be doing is the gluing. The children simply come up with their particular pieces and state how they would like it to be glued. The glue guns are quite safe if supervised so many children may use them themselves.
  7. Questions to ask children:
    • How can you make this structure stronger?
    • How will you stop if from falling over?
  8. It may take a 2-3 sessions to complete the structures. Don’t forget to have a sharing session where the children can explain their structure and respond to questions about their chosen design. The children should also have the opportunity to appraise their own design by identifying what they like about it and what they would improve if they did it again.
  9. They look fantastic displayed in a bush setting with lighting to give more of an effect and are also an excellent writing stimulus.

*Honkynuts or gumnuts refer to the cup-like pod that grows on a gum tree. They are about 1-4cm long. Before the honkynut drops to the ground it is a green cup whose lid opens to reveal colourful blossom. When the flowering finished the honkynut drops to the ground and the seeds inside disperse and grow. “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” are May Gibbs storybook characters who wear the small ones on their head and sit in the large ones. They would provide a good stimulus for younger children before they start their constructions.

Twig Construction