Cara Brookins
Cara Brookins
Cara Brookins

Pick-Up Sticks

Pick Up Sticks

People all around the world have been playing games similar to pick-up-sticks for hundreds of years. My Grandma Doris taught me to play when I was a little girl. The Chinese made them from ivory and the ends had elaborate carvings. Different versions of the game were played in many countries-each with their own unique twist. In the United States and Canada we play a game of Pick-up Sticks using 25-30 colored sticks.

You can make your own by buying a bag of wooden skewers and clipping off the sharp end and sanding it smooth. Then, you can paint each stick or at least an inch at each tip. Use the guide below for the colors you will need. (I'll bet you could even make a mini set with toothpicks.)

You can also buy wooden dowels that are 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch thick and make a large set for playing in the yard. These sell for $25.00 and up in the stores. For that same amount you can make several sets and give one as a housewarming gift. You might want to prime the wood first for the large sets, paint and then put on a coat of two of polyurethane for protection from moisture.

What You'll Need

1 Black -25 points

7 Red -10 points

7 Blue -5 points

8 Green -2 points

7 Yellow 1-points

Rules For Play

First, stand the sticks upright holding them all vertically with your hand in a group. Let go gently and allow them to drop where they may. Each player's goal is to pick up as many sticks as they can without making the other sticks move. You can use the black stick as a tool to 'flick' the other sticks off the pile, or use the black stick for 25 points and use your fingers to grab the sticks from the pile. Make sure you agree on which method you will use before you begin to play! I played by using an extra stick as a tool.

The winner will be the one who can total 200 points. The first player to go (roll dice or use some other method for choosing the first player) picks up one stick at a time until another stick is moved when he attempts to pick one up. Then it goes to the next player and so on until someone reaches 200 points. You can use your own total if you wish. Some versions used 500. When I played with Doris we never knew that each color was worth a different point value. We just counted to see who had the most sticks at the end.