Make some gorgeous DIY coloured sticks for counting, creative picture making, dominoes games and more! They’re such a fun, open-ended loose part for free play and learning and would make a great gift or addition to the classroom or home learning shelves.
I love making things for the kids that are low to no cost, especially when they can be used for a range of things. Open ended resources are the bees knees! These DIY coloured sticks are so quick to make and can be used so many ways in play, creativity and learning.
I found this bundle of willow sticks for sale in a pet store, for small animals to chew on! They were a really low price so we re-purposed them for our coloured sticks instead. Onto the ends of the sticks I simply wrapped a few rounds of coloured washi tape. I stuck to 5 colours and then alternated so that there were an equal number of colours distributed across the two ends of the bundle. Some had the same colour at both end too.
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I’m sure theres a much more mathematical way to work out the pattern for how to apply the colours, but this is how I did it. For the purpose they will do fine, but of course for a specific problem solving maths game you may want to apply a formula.
They took just a few minutes to complete and once done I popped them in a jam jar for them to play with as they chose. As well as using these for simple open-ended play, here are some ideas for using them for learning too.
For younger children, simple colour matching and then move onto playing dominoes with them! This is the first thing my kids did with them and it was fun to watch them laying the sticks all across the floor with the coloured ends touching.
Make shapes, numbers or letters of the alphabet, copying photographs or printed media. Make simple patterns and repeating patterns using the coloured ends. Join the ends together to create flat structures, zig zags, concentric squares or free flow pictures! Up the challenge by saying “create a triangle with all different colours at the corners” or “build shapes with matching colours at the corners.”
The DIY coloured sticks are particularly great for maths! Use them as a counting manipulative and to begin to understand grouping, tallying, counting in 5s (or any other combination too) up to 100 and beyond.
Make them as a set for your classroom, homeschool, playroom or as a gift for a preschooler! Keep them stored in a jam jar on the shelf for free access to loose parts play, and use alongside playdough as a base material too!
We now have quite an archive full of simple, DIY play and learning resources that you may enjoy browsing!
See our other PLAYFUL MATHS ideas here too.
If you enjoyed these DIY coloured sticks then please share with others too. Thanks!
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