Most mothers probably wouldn’t expect to stumble on their child making a wooden spear in their home. They probably wouldn’t imagine being excited about it either. But when I caught Miss Possum making a weapon, I’ll admit I was surprised, but I was genuinely thrilled that she was creating nature craft without any prompting from me.
I’ve always wanted to teach my children survival skills, not because I’m worried there’s a dooms day around the corner. I’m not that radical.
Why let your child make a wooden spear
What I do love about making a wooden spear is that it takes you back to the beginning, when our primal instincts were to protect, nourish and shelter ourselves. I think it’s important for children to know that humans used to be much more connected to the land.
In an educational sense it will also build:
- Fine motor skills
- problem solving
- gross motor skills
- nature appreciation
What you’ll need:
- A good long branch
- rock, cement or a file
- Cardboard and paint for the target and string to tie it up.
Make your spear
Let your child try several ways to create their wooden spear. Let them test which process helps file the end of the branch to sharp point. I’d suggest not making it too sharp to reduce any risk should your child accidentally hit a sibling or a real animal!
I should mention here that the stick she used to make her spear wasn’t really suitable to make a genuine spear. She was working on wood that wasn’t very dense, and it was very light. It was quite safe to play with. Had it been more like a real spear, I would have been a lot more cautious.
I enjoyed watching Miss Possum try several tools to get the desired sharp point on her piece of wood. First, she tried scraping the wood on the cement to try and sharpen the end.
Next, she tried using a rock. At this stage I felt like I was watching a caveman trying to get the desired effect with a primitive tool.
Miss Possum was getting frustrated so I suggested a filing tool we had in the garage. This worked a treat and rubbing back and forth she filed the wood down to a point.
Next, let your child paint their spear. This isn’t essential but there is something special about decorating your own spear that builds ownership and respect for your tool.
Now that your child has a wooden spear, they need to learn how to use it and use it in a safely. When the spear is dry, it’s time to make the target.
Use some cardboard and paint to create your own target and add points to each colour.
We put the target up in the bush walk and all the girls had a go at hitting the target with the spear.
Lean more about wooden spears
They can learn even more about tools if you let them. Here are some ideas:
- What are the the tools people needed when they lived only on the land.
- Investigate what a spear might have been used for in the past e.g. hunting animals and to protect themselves.
- Learn how primitive people would have decorated their spears.
- Think about what colours they would have used to help keep them camouflaged in the bush.
- What are other ways we use spears now e.g. in sport, spear fishing etc.
I didn’t expect to walk in on my eldest child making a wooden spear, I could have easily shut down the activity when I saw her making the weapon. I’m so glad I didn’t because I would have never would have anticipated how much fun we would have and how much we would learn together.
Hopefully you too will stumble on your child making a wooden spear of their own.