lolly sticks

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Using lolly (or popsicle) sticks as a teaching aid!

The other day I had a fun conversation on Instagram after I posted this photo

which showed my recent purchases from Hobbycraft. It included a lot of lolly sticks. Different shapes and sizes, even different colours, but still loads of them. She messaged me to say that lolly sticks sounded cute and hilarious. Cue my confused face. Apparently in America lolly sticks are called popsicle sticks. Which I thought was cute and hilarious. Shared cuteness and hilarity across the pond.

I often use lolly sticks in my day to day practice. They are natural and cheap and they could be:

  • Pair pickers write the name of each child in the group on a stick (1 each) and use them to pick helpers, children to answer a question, or even pick pairs!
  • Finger spacers having a physical object on the page stops the writing in the space, and allows children to use the non-writing hand to hold the paper.
  • Reading wands Put a tiny arrow pointing up on the top and then use them to follow word lines as they read.
  • Making 2d shapes I like to challenge them to work out why they can’t make a true circle with them.
  • Bundles of 10 during place value. Helps those still struggling with counting to 10 and is a useful aid for those moving on to tens and ones. Can also be good for counting in 10s.

So what did I do with all these beautiful sticks of gloriousness?

Firstly, I made the game “oh snap” using the mini lolly sticks and writing tricky words on them. For my purposes I used the Year 2 tricky words which I believe are known as sight words by my American colleagues. In order to make the writing clear and smudge proof, I used Papermate Flair pens which are gorgeous felt pens that have such a rich look. And they come in a bazillion gorgeous colours. As a colour addict, that is important.

Next step? I took 10 of the coloured mini lolly sticks and wrote “oh snap!” on them. Together they make the game! I put all of them in a little gift bag (everyone hoards wrapping right?) ready to play.

lolly sticks

How do you play “oh snap!”?
  • Each player takes a stick from the bag in turn and if you can read the word, you keep it.
  • If you can’t it goes back in the bag.
  • First to 10 sticks wins. (you can change that to whatever criteria you want)
  • However, if you get an “oh snap!” stick ALL your sticks have to go back in the bag!

I’ve written about it before, but playing games is so effective for learning. Having fun with a by-product of learning? Yes please!

Any Maths lolly sticks?

Why yes! I am glad you asked. For maths I went about the ridiculously mammoth task of creating times-table match up with the midi lolly sticks. I have created a stick per number sentence in each times-table from 2-12. And I also indicated which set they are in by making a mark/image on the back of the stick.

Finally, I wrote the inverse sentences on more midi lolly sticks in green.

How will I use them? Read on my friend…

To ensure the children know the tables first, I will let them lucky dip a stick and see if they can answer. After that I will give them an answer and they have to find the number sentences that match. I’ll repeat it with the division sentences, and get the children to match their multiplication to the inverse division sums.

Any more ideas?

So many ideas. However, the ones I needed are complete and though I am crazy excited by the animal shaped lolly sticks (magic reading wands in my head), the coloured sticks and the wibbly wobbly ones they have yet to be created. I’ll post about that in the near future, I promise!

I am so excited to use these in my tutoring sessions. His previous tutor was quite a worksheet/text book type person, and I am rather the opposite… Very much the opposite in fact. Love a worksheet or book but not exclusively. These new lolly stick games are already planned into my session and I know he’ll love a bit more active learning.

Have you got any amazing uses for lolly (or popsicle) sticks I could try? Don’t forget to like, and let me know in the comments! Oh and sign up for sitewide updates!

lolly sticks


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