Monday, May 17, 2010

Popsicle Sticks: A Simple and Versatile Low Tech Tool

Once upon a time, each of us probably made a Popsicle stick picture frame with lots of paint and glitter, and presented it to our moms and dads with grinning pride and joy. It was simple, and easy to make, and our parents pretended to love it.

Sometimes, in the fast paced technologically advanced world we live in, we forget about the simple tools that were once commonplace in the pre-technological classroom. Today, I am going to remind you of the simplest low tech tool of them all: the Popsicle stick. The Popsicle stick is versatile because, well, it's just a wooden stick. You can paint on it, color it, glue it, use it as a bookmark, use it to identify seeds planted, use it to practice tallies, use it to count, use it to stir things, use it as a pointer, and so on and so forth. I am going to share 3 examples with you that I learned from an Autism make-and-take workshop.

1) Follow with your eyes
Have you ever been reading aloud in a classroom, asked a student to follow with his eyes, and he puts his eyes on the book? Here is a solution to helping kids follow along in the book:
2) Asking too many questions
Some students ask many questions, or frequently ask to go to the bathroom. If this is the case, you can make Popsicle sticks with appropriate symbols. Give the student a set number of Popsicle sticks. When they ask a question or ask to go to the bathroom, they give you a Popsicle stick. When they run out of sticks, they cannot ask anymore questions or go to the bathroom anymore. The student will then learn how to space his or her questions out. You can also start to reduce the number of Popsicle sticks as time goes on.
3) Understanding parts of a story
Labeling Popsicle sticks with parts of a story (plot, character, conflict, resolution, setting, etc) will help students to focus on that particular area of the story. Give a student a Popsicle stick. Read the story aloud. When the story is over, the student will share what he or she found in the story related to the Popsicle stick they hold. The group can then discuss. Picture clues on the Popsicle stick will help the student remember what he or she is looking for.

If you have more great ideas for uses of Popsicle sticks in the classroom, please feel free to post below! I hope you find these ideas useful!


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