Pick-Up Sticks - FamilyEducation

Pick-Up Sticks

In this activity, children construct their own pick-up sticks and then have fun playing the game.


  • 30 wooden skewers
  • Colored paint or felt pens black, red, blue, green, and yellow
  1. To make your set of pick-up sticks, paint the ends of the skewers with the following colors: one black, three red, five blue, nine green, and twelve yellow.
  2. Assign points to each color as follows: black ten points, red five points, blue three points, green two points, and yellow one point.
  3. Use a table or the floor to play the game.
  4. Hold the sticks upright in a bunch in one hand just above the floor or table.
  5. Release the sticks and let them fall.
  6. Now try to remove the sticks one by one without moving any other stick in the pile.
  7. You can use the black stick to help you remove other sticks.
  8. Continue removing sticks until you move another stick by mistake.
  9. Now count the value of your sticks.
  10. Play the game again and see if you can beat the number.
Note: Pick-up sticks probably originated in China where the sticks were carved out of ivory and were elaborately decorated.