My kids love to build clubhouses and can turn anything into a fort—our playground, the shady spot under the deck, you name it. So with summer here, I was pretty excited discover Stick-lets, a new toy that lets them do that very thing.
Stick-lets are thick pieces of silicone with holes cut out, so you can slide them over the end of two sticks and build a structure with them. They call them “silicone lashings” but that sounds like something out of Game of Thrones, to us.
They stretch pretty well (although it takes some strength to pull the heavy-duty silicone), so you can even slide them over larger branches or stretch them to connect with another branch. Just let your kids’ imaginations run wild as they create life-sized sculptures, teepees to hide out in, or bows and arrows. There are truly limitless possibilities here, which is what makes the toy so great.
Just remember, they aren’t meant to support any real weight, so don’t plan to build a swing set with them.
Urban families who don’t have access to a backyard full of fallen branches can invest in a handful of thick dowel rods so you can let your kids build forts in the living room if you dare. Or I’d take the Stick-lets with me to the park; they come in a small canvas bag you can easily toss them in a tote.
Having tried them out, I think Stick-lets are probably best for older kids. I’ve found that it’s hard for little hands to build forts themselves in any capacity; making something you’ve planned out in advance takes some sophisticated spatial reasoning, and you do need a decent amount of hand strength to stretch and pull the thick silicone. But with a little help from a parent or even older siblings, younger kids can have a lot of fun with these.
Interestingly, my own kids also seemed to really enjoy just playing with the Stick-lets by themselves, making patterns out of the pieces, stacking them on top of each other and sticking things down into the holes that were lined up. The bright colors and thick, bendy-stretchy texture really appealed to them, and every time I’d pack them back into the bag, I’d come back into the living room to see them spread out on the floor again.
Whether that’s a good thing in your home is totally your call.
Browse the full range of Stick-lets products at their website. Products will start shipping in July 2014. The 6-piece Mini Building Kit starts at $15, and for serious builders, the 204-piece Educational Kit runs you $450. And check out the 14-piece Gardener’s special, to build supports for your climbing produce. Thanks to Stick-lets for providing us with review samples.