Math Fun with Pick-Up Sticks


My sweet little boy is turning 8 this week.  

His older sister wanted to choose a gift for him that was unique.  

I was thrilled when she chose a set of jacks, an old fashioned balloon art set, and Pick-Up Sticks!

It wasn't until we started playing that I realized the HUGE math benefits of playing Pick-Up Sticks.   


First, you need a set of Pick-Up Sticks.   {What a great stocking stuffer!}

Next, you must know the rules of play. (There are a lot of variations on the rules, so decide in advance what they will be.)

Finally, learn how to score.   (Note:  Most scoring directions have the black stick worth 25 points, but for our purposes it is worth 10 points)

I made the game very simple:    Throw the sticks down and proceed with normal play.  At the end of the round you score all of the sticks you have collected.  

The person with the most points wins!

 Have you thought of the math facts that can be practiced in a game of Pick-Up Sticks?


  • sorting/grouping/categorizing
  • multiplication tables
  • addition facts
  • mental math


...not to mention the strategy of the game as a whole. 

Here's a printable to make scoring with Pick-Up Sticks easier.   Print several copies (just click the image below to download) and have fun!   


My daughter suggested other math activities with Pick-Up Sticks:


  • writing your own word problems
  • just giving the student different colored sticks and having them quickly figure out the "score"
  • assigning different point values to the sticks based on what times tables you are studying
  • .... the possibilities are endless!


Do you play Pick-Up Sticks?

And, do you use games to reinforce math concepts in your home?