Remembering a journey

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Journey stick

‘the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between’

Everyone, especially children, love collecting mementos: special treasures that capture a moment and a memory. I’m always finding acorns, small stones and picked flower heads in my children’s coat pocket or in the bottom of a school bag. I confess to having my own favourite sea shells and pebbles displayed on the kitchen window shelf.

The enjoyment of discovering and collecting treasures can be developed into an activity to help build confidence in exploring new and even familiar areas. Often small details and even seasonal changes can be overlooked.  A ‘mapstick’ or journey stick is a lovely activity to remember a journey by collecting and binding personal mementos to a stick using coloured wool to help represent colours, feelings and even smells.

I introduce the activity with a discussion about journeys and how we can recall and share our memories through songs, dance and story-telling. I then share my mapstick journey explaining the significance of the coloured wool and objects. ‘My journey began on short soft GREEN grass (tied in woven grass and a daisy). It was a beautiful sunny day YELLOW. I paddled in a small stream BLUE with grey and purple stones (pebble tied with GREY). I reached a woodland ….’

The group will now be eager to start exploring. Large envelopes are good for collecting their treasures. It’s easiest to have everyone return to a meeting point to sort and order their treasures and start binding the wool and objects onto a stick they have found (or been given if there are no suitable sticks).

Encourage the group to keep talking about their journey. Why have they chosen that colour wool? What does the feather represent? Where was it found? etc…. I love the sharing of their memories, the significance of their treasures – everyone’s journey and interpretation is delightfully different.

Finally explain that the end of the stick should be left bare because a journey never ends.

Enjoy your journeys.

Mapsticks – recording a journey through a ‘mapstick’ activity is explained in Gordon MacLellan’s book ‘Talking to the Earth’.