I cannot remember where I saw this idea. I think it was from one of the many natural playground workshops that I have been attending whenever one is available. (Our natural playground plans are nearly finished and our fundraising has begun-I am incredibly excited!!)
We have an old bench made from a fallen tree. I took a power drill and the largest drill bit I owned and tried to drill about 3/4 inch holes across the top surface of the bench. I wanted the holes to be about four inches deep. I could not believe how difficult it was to drill into this rotting piece of wood. I wore out two battery powered drills and had to wait another day for this project until I could bring in an electric drill that finally had enough power to make the holes.
Into the holes, we sunk sticks we had found around our playground and then we simply painted them with tempera paint.
It was interesting to watch the different ways the children positioned their bodies to paint. How they solved the problem of some of the sticks rotating when they went to paint on them.
One stick was quite long and a child discovered that standing on the truck allowed him to paint the top of the stick.
It was also a very transient project that allowed for continued movement. Children would run by, paint a few strokes and then keep running. They didn't feel they had to "finish" or complete anything. Several groups returned many different times.
The sticks themselves looked so interested painted. I had planned to hang them from the ceiling to suspend some of our other artwork, but I forgot to take them in....and it rained.
So now, clean sticks...and another opportunity for some process art with natural materials.