Place Value Pick-up Sticks
Play the traditional game of Pick-up Sticks, add place values to the colors for a challenging mathematical game.
package of Pick-Up Sticks (store bought or homemade) pencil paper
What to do:
- If possible, print out these directions. Read them through together before you begin.
- Together, gather everything you'll need.
- If you and your child wish to make your own set of Pick-Up Sticks, use a package of throat swabs (wooden stick with cotton on end). Cut off the cotton tip, and just use the wooden stick. Use at least 24 sticks. Have your child pour red, yellow, blue, and green food coloring into separate shallow bowls. Put an even amount of sticks (at least 6-8 per color) in each of the bowls. Let them soak until the color is strong, (generally overnight).
How to play:
- Let your child drop the entire set of sticks from about 6 inches above the floor or table top where you are playing.
- Decide who will be player "1" and who will be player "2".
- Proceed to play Pick-Up Sticks by having player "1" try to pick up each stick without moving any of the other sticks.
- Once player "1" moves an unintended stick, he loses his turn.
- Player "2" continues to try and pick up the remainder of the sticks.
- A player may use one of the sticks he has already picked up to flip a stick that may be lying across other sticks.
- This process continues until all of the sticks have been picked up.
- At this point, sort out your sticks according to their colors.
- Scoring is determined by the value placed on each of the colors:
You and your child will add up your total amounts, taking into account the values of each of the colored sticks. For example, if a you have 3 red’s, 2 green’s, 6 blues, and 4 yellow’s, your score would be “3,264.”
- It may be helpful to make a place-value grid using the colors to help with sorting out the colors.
- Scores must be read correctly to get all the points.
- This game may be modified to be played with either decimal numbers and/or a combination of whole/decimal numbers.
- Draw a black band around the sticks you wish to use as decimal numbers. Please note, you may not do this on the yellow stick. The following would be the values assigned to the sticks with the black bands drawn on them:
For example, if you picked up 2 black-banded blues, 3 black-banded greens, and 5 black-banded reds,your score would be .235 (two-hundred-thirty-five thousandths).
This added a challenging twist to the game of Pick-up Sticks. I usually play with my step dad. We keep score, so far we are tied. (Ariel, age 11)