Backyard Art with Sticks and a Hot Glue Gun

Backyard Art with Sticks and a Hot Glue Gun

A bunch of sticks and a glue gun makes for a creative day of backyard art.

Experts say that being bored is good for kids because it provides them with a quiet place where they learn to tap into their creativity and develop their self-identity. This may be true, but I don’t know where they got the idea that a child’s boredom is a quiet place. Is your kid quiet when he’s bored? Because mine follows me around, whining incessantly, and she did just that this weekend.

Ruby [for the fiftieth time]: I’m SO BORED, mom! What can I do!

Me: Why don’t you play school?

Ruby: B-o-r-i-n-g.

Me: Curl up on the couch and read a good book.

Ruby: Ugh.

Me: Go play outside.

Ruby: And do what? There’s no one to play with!

Me: Get out your markers and draw.

Ruby: That’s not fun AT ALL!

No matter what I suggested, she wasn’t interested. I finally gave up and told her that none of my ideas were going to sound fun, because boredom is a state of mind, and you can either choose to be bored and miserable or go find yourself something to do. “Either way, leave me out of it,” I said. And I walked away. 

Unfortunately, there was nowhere to walk away to where she couldn’t follow, and she did. “I’m BORED!” she repeated ad nauseam. “What can I DO?” Finally, instead of screaming in agony and pulling out my hair by the roots in frustration, I said, “Hey! I know what you could do!”

She looked at me suspiciously. “What.”

I told her to hang on, wait right there a sec. I had to go get something out of the garage.

Now, our garage is kind of terrifying, thanks to my hoard of special treasures, and Ruby isn’t allowed in. Once safely inside, I took a few deep breaths, savoring the silence, knowing I only had a minute or two before she started up again. There had to be something lying around that would pique her interest. I spied a green cloth bag hanging from a hook, and I peeked inside. Sticks!

I love sticks, and apparently, I collect them. I don’t remember putting all the sticks in that bag, but I congratulated myself on my impeccable foresight. As it turns out, Ruby recently learned how to operate the hot glue gun, and what could be more fun than hot-gluing sticks together on the patio?

Apparently nothing at the moment, because Ruby warmed to the idea immediately and became my sweet, enthusiastic eight-year-old again. 

Hot gluing sticks together.

I tried to get her to make a spiky, three-dimensional starburst sculpture thingy for the garden, but she ended up frustrated with me for trying to be the boss of hot-gluing sticks together, so I finally backed off and let her do her own thing, which was to make a raft... 

Hot glue gun and sticks.
Hot glue gun and stick raft.

...for her ragtag team of naked Barbies, who have been hanging out at the dystopian swimming pool these past few days:

Hot glue gun and stick raft for the Barbies.

It didn't take her too long to make the raft, and then she got engrossed in solo play poolside, which meant that I got to hog the glue gun to make my own dang spiky, three-dimensional starburst sculpture thingy for the garden, which went something like this: 

hot glue gun and stick garden sculpture.
Stick garden art with copper string lights.

I got the flexible copper solar string lights on Amazon—I actually got a couple of sets, because they were pretty inexpensive. I've used them for several different projects. They're durable and adorable.

Copper wire lights on stick garden art sculpture.
Stick and copper string light garden art.

I used florist's wire to attach the spiky thingie to a pointy stick and jabbed the whole shebang into the earth:

Stick and hot glue gun garden art sculpture.

Here's what she looks like all lit up at night:

Copper string light garden art sculpture.

Yeah, it ain't no Picasso piece, but it was a fun project.

Next time your kid is bored, I highly recommend handing her the glue gun and a handful of sticks. Heck, toss in some leaves and acorns and other odds and ends, and see what comes of it. She may not make the garden sculpture you envision, but she’ll forget her boredom so that you can get your wits back, and it just might spark your own creativity.


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