Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pick Out Sticks

I have spent most of today preparing for a group of third graders whose class I will be stepping into on Friday. Since I am scheduled to be there through December, I need to treat this class as if it's my own. I made goodie bags filled with a pencil, bookmark, small notepad, and a note from me. I organized my supplies and created my system to keep up with grading. Something else I did, that would be good for long-term and short-term subs alike, is create a class set of craft sticks. I chose fat colorful sticks, but any sticks will do. The great thing is they are very inexpensive at any craft store, and they are small so they store in a sub bag of tricks easily.

All you do with these craft sticks is write numbers on them. Every teacher I have subbed for assigns each student a number, so you are creating a stick for every student in the class. Use as many sticks as there are students in a typical classroom. I created 24. I store my sticks in a pencil holder, but they can be kept in a can or even a baggie.

Use the sticks for anything from calling on students, to taking role, to choosing a line leader. It is always fair and keeps students listening since they never know when they might be called.

Another trick I use with these is to put them in the holder number side down. When I have chosen that stick, I put it back in number side up so I don't call on the same student frequently.

Many teachers I have seen have these in their classrooms already, but as a sub you never know if they will be there or you will able to find them. So it is an inexpensive, easy, and small-to-store thing for you to carry with you.


  1. I've used this in the classroom and it works very well. I never thought to switch the way the numbers are in the cup so you don't keep calling them. A few lessons I picked a student twice in a row or even 3 times! This would eliminate that and the children wouldn't know thus they'd still pay attention! Thanks for the tip!

  2. I have used these with names, but never numbers, what a clever idea for a sub! Being able to randomly call on a student is so valuable and you can use them to partner students too just by pulling out two at a time.

    Great post!

    Minds in Bloom

  3. I've used these before by placing a small cup inside another (bigger) cup--Depending on the material of the cups, you can place a brad through the bottom to hold together, hot glue, tape, etc. I start the sticks in the center cup and then move to the outside area between the two cups. I just keep switching the sticks from one side to the other. This prevents me from dropping or having to dig through the sticks for the last remaining numbers that have not been called.
    ~Lucynda N

  4. I've used this for years and love the randomness of using them. Thanks for the idea about turning the sticks. I had always pulled them out and sat the sticks to the side. This allows me to hide the fact that I might not call on them again. Debbie

  5. Another thought- if you use this idea and the class is not set up by student numbers (ex: my class) you could still use this idea if you make 2 sets of the sticks. You could pass out 1 set of sticks to each child and instruct them that they are to leave it on their name tag number side up. This way students have a visual reminder of what their # is and you still have a set that you can have in a can. (I thought about implementing #'s but I had too many questions with it)

    Primary Connections


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