Toothpicks as a learning tool? Absolutely.
The list below offers some ideas for using toothpicks as a learning tool, and includes activities for building flat and 3-D structures, using them as a writing or drawing tool, making puzzles, doing tricks, and for creating and playing homemade games.
I’ve also included a video that shows how these useful wooden sticks are made.
One note of caution, toothpicks have sharp tips. Adult supervision is suggested for younger children.
Here is a list of some of the supplies that will be needed for the suggested activities: Toothpicks, glue, paper, light cardboard, a scissor, ink, paint, paint brush, clay or marshmallows, markers, water, food coloring, a pencil, a container with small holes, and a stopwatch or timer.
1. Use toothpicks to form the letters of the alphabet and words.
2. Dip a toothpick in ink or paint and draw or write with it.
3. Make toothpick pictures. Glue colored or plain toothpicks to a piece of paper.
4. Glue toothpicks together to form a solid structure such as a toothpick bridge, house, tower, etc..
5. Make 3-D toothpick structures with clay or marshmallows. Try making polyhedrons such as pyramids, chemical models, animals, and other 3-D shapes.
6. Solve toothpick puzzles or do toothpick geometry.
7. Make simple shapes with them. Simply play around with the toothpicks and see what shapes you come up with.
8. Where did the toothpick come from? Find out how toothpicks came into being and how toothpicks are made and packaged.
9. Learn some toothpick tricks. There are some fun tricks you can do with a simple toothpick.
10. Make a spinning color wheel. These are simple to make and fun to play with. You will need a light cardboard box, toothpicks, and paint or markers for this activity. Alternate the colors, draw some shapes, make crazy patterns and see what happens when you spin your wheel.
11. Make up a toothpick game. Color plain old wooden toothpicks and come up with a game like pick-up sticks with them, design your own games as well. Write down the ones you like the most.
12. Play a Guesstimation game. Take few toothpicks out of their package and toss them lightly on a table, without counting them, guess how many there are and write that number down. Count how many there are and figure out the difference between what you guessed and the actual number. How close was your guess? Play a few more times and see if your guesstimating skills get better the more you play.
13. Toothpick and shaker challenge. This is a great way to build fine motor skills at any age! You will need toothpicks, a cheese shaker or a container with holes on top that will allow a toothpick through it easily, a timer, and paper and pencil for this activity. To play, set a timer for 30 seconds and see how many toothpicks you can get into the container via the small holes on top within that time period. When the time is up, count the toothpicks in the container. Write down the time and the number of toothpicks. Play a few times, then check on your progress. How much better have you gotten since your first try? Reduce the time allotted and challenge yourself to get as many toothpicks into the container in the fewest seconds possible. For an extra challenge, use a container with smaller holes. Snip the tips off the toothpicks if they are too sharp.
Related Post: Last One Standing – This fun game can be played with toothpicks.
If you would like to access all the videos at once, please visit my Toothpick Playlist on YouTube. Here’s one of the videos in the list…
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