In my last post, 10 Little Stick Activities, I mentioned the game of Pick Up Sticks. This is fun, good for all ages and a nice way to introduce sticks to a class. Here’s another useful little idea that one course participant showed me when training in Perth last year.
I’ve used cut sticks in this post but, quite honestly, I reckon it would be even more fun with a range of gathered sticks of different shapes and sizes.
Challenge children in pairs or by themselves to create a picture using sticks. In this instance, 12 sticks were used. If you have older children, you may wish to add in additional criteria such as, containing at least one right angle, or which has 2 pairs of parallel lines. In fact you can pick all sorts of properties of shapes as a criteria.
How you do the next bit, depends on how you want to manage your class or group. If you are working with 30 children, you may wish to gather them around one picture and model the next part of the game.
In turn, each child has to move one stick in the picture. As they do this, the picture starts to morph into something else.
At this point it can be fun to encourage children to think what the picture now represents. By looking at the picture from different angles, it will change. I think this picture went from being more of a house into an alien insect pig-like creature.
If it is part of a maths activity that is focusing on shape or angles or position and movement, then you may want to add in specific instructions, such as “move a stick clockwise” or “add in a line of symmetry.” This will work well if the class is looking at one picture in a circle and commenting collectively.
However, if you are encouraging a more free flow approach, where children are moving around independently from picture to picture, every time you ask them to “change picture” then it may just be easier to look at it from a thinking skills perspective and the enjoyment of being able to change other children’s pictures and seeing the difference in your own.
What also makes this activity more powerful mathematically is to let children decide each rule for making changes. What ideas do they have? It is particularly useful in terms of encouraging children to experiment and investigate the outcome of each rule.
Regardless, it is the sort of open-ended activity that I think most children, teachers and parents can see the potential of, and change to suit their interests and needs. All-in-all, a very enjoyable game.