“Sticks and Stones”

The old line goes “sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Of course that isn’t true, but is useful as a playground response to bullying. But the sticks and stones in this post are the common variety found on the ground by kids everywhere. These basis of these two comes naturally, I think, since I have never known a child to pass by a stick or stone without wanting to do something with it.

The first is named “Pooh Sticks,” after an activity in the “Winnie the Pooh” books. It requires a bridge, two or more kids, and a stick each. At the word go, each person drops her stick in the stream and runs to the other side of the bridge.(Clearly this should be played on footbridges, not ones with traffic!) The first stick to emerge is the winner. We played this endlessly for reasons I cannot now fathom.

The other game was skipping stones. I think that I was better at this when I was much shorter and closer to the water. In essence, you find a fairly flat, fairly round stone, throw it low to the ground and hope it skips across the water. The picture shows an excellent example of a successful stone being skipped. The winner is the kid with the most skips. I sometimes can still get one skip. But when I was a child I would fill my pockets with perfect stones and try and try to get a series of skips. Kids learn the idea very quickly, and my grandson tries his skill any time we are near water.

Both activities are free outdoor fun. I think each has definitely stood the test of time. And throwing rocks and sticks into water is definitely more parent approved than the other uses my siblings and I found for them!(The phrase “someone is going to get their eye poked out” comes immediately to mind.)

35 thoughts on ““Sticks and Stones”

  1. I have been thinking about stones. As you know I did the Camino last year. It is a tradition to take a stone and leave it at some point on the pilgrimage. Symbolic of unburdening yourself of a sin by leaving it on the Camino. My travel companion thought this practice is meaningless. I have come to disagree. If I am blessed with the opportunity to do the Camino again I am going to take a stone.


  2. I could never make a stone skip more than once. Watching others get four or five skips made me very frustrated. I didn’t know about Pooh Sticks until I was an adult. Perhaps because the only water I lived near was the River Thames. Not that suitable for stick games. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.


      1. Ollie loved sticks when he was a pup. But he no longer has any interest in them. When he turned 2, he started to get serious, and now he’s almost 7, he is not interested in much play at all. 🙂


  3. I’ve never managed to make a stone bounce on water – not even once :(.
    You can read disappointment in the dogs’ eyes when it’s me throwing the sticks. (They always stick close to me in the kitchen though.)


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