Earlier this year, one of the second grade teachers approached me about an idea for an art/social studies collaboration. She had read a story to the children about a tribe which used talking sticks. She thought the students would be interested in making their own special talking sticks. This could be a great project to accompany character education on taking turns and listening.
Talking sticks have been used in native tribes of the Northwest Coast (North America) and in Western Africa. These sticks are held by the person designated to speak. The other people not holding the stick would need to stay quiet to listen. Other groups have adopted this tradition of the talking stick, including Boy Scouts and Rainbow Gatherings.
Have you read Lord of the Flies? In this novel (which is a classic and favorite of mine) the kids find a conch shell and institute the “rule of the conch.” No one can speak unless they are holding the conch shell. If I ever meet you in person (NAEA Chicago!!!!) remind me to tell you a funny conch shell story.
So my second graders carefully looked for a stick at home and brought it in. I told kids to bring in more than one, so in case someone forgot there would be enough for everyone.
1. First they painted the sticks with acrylic paints.
2. After the paint was dry, they used a variety of materials to embellish their talking sticks. Wrapping, tying, twisting and taping to attach pieces. No glue was used. The pipe cleaners and wire were great for attaching things.
They used materials such as
I think they turned out beautiful!
For more inspiration on painting sticks, check out these beautiful ones.
The ever-talented Alisa Burke also made some gorgeous painted driftwood which look awesome as home deco and mobiles.
And these… I love love love the colors.