You’d be surprised and amazed at how many different things you can do with the same item. One of the cheapest and most versatile of classroom materials is the humble craft stick. In fact, I call it an "object with one thousand uses.” At one dollar for a box of one hundred sticks, you really can’t go wrong.
I am offering a few ideas I use in my classroom, but if you let your imagination go wild, you will come up with your own "thousand uses." At the left, for instance, we made stick people by gluing three sticks and adding construction paper faces and clothes. The Thank You card, which could be repurposed for Mother's Day or any other occasion, is made by gluing the sticks together side by side and decorating with markers or paint. I made the holes to run the pipe cleaners through to bind the card with an X-Acto knife. The inside can be decorated and signed. The bookmark is made in the same way.
Here are some of my other favorites to get you started!
Write names on the sticks for attendance or turn-taking. Draw symbols on them for forming groups by shape, number, color, letter, or a combination of these.
Have students build words, self-check math problems, or assemble a puzzle. To make the puzzle, I cut strips from a magazine image the width of the sticks and glue them individually to the sticks. You can put each puzzle set in a resealable baggie and shake it up, ready to be reassembled by eager hands.
Prepare little signs that enable children to ask for help or to answer yes/no or multiple-choice questions.
Use them to identify plants, or to estimate how much birdseed it will take to reach a fill line. For our estimation exercise, we just look at the bag of seed, make a guess about how much of the bag we would need to hit the mark drawn on the stick (half the bag, the whole bag, etc), and then pour our estimated amount in the cup.
Construct a story elements fan or a nonstandard measuring stick by attaching paper fasteners. Again, the X-Acto knife is used to allow for the paper fastener to go through the stick.
I hope these ideas inspire you to find more ways to use the simple craft stick and that you'll share your unique, new creations with us here.