6 Craft Stick Math Activities (Hands-on Learning for Math Centers)

Alison Smith

Written by Alison Smith

Are you looking for quick and effective math activities for your math centers or for your guided math groups? If you are, then you’ve come to the right place!

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The frugal craft stick offers so many opportunities for hands-on learning. Take a look at this video to find out how you can use them as a part of your math activities.


Dotty Pops

So, let’s get started with Dotty Pops! This simple and effective idea can be used in so many ways! I used colored sticky dots and basic craft sticks that can be purchased from most discount stores. Also, I opted to use the larger sized craft sticks.

Take a look at our Counting collection for more teaching resources.

You can use Dotty Pops to teach:

  • One-to-one correspondence – ask your students to practice counting the dots by pointing to them.
  • Ordering – ask your students to order the sticks from the smallest number of dots to the largest and vice versa.
  • Represent and solve simple addition and subtraction problems – ask your students to select two sticks from a mystery bag and provide our Blank math Vocabulary Symbols Version 2.

Take a look at our Operations collection for more brilliant teaching resources that your students will love!

Craft Stick Multiples

Do your students need to consolidate their knowledge of multiplication facts? Craft Stick Multiples can be used in lots of different ways when your students are learning to skip count and apply multiplication strategies.

Don't miss our Multiplication Gears Resource Pack

I love to use ‘Craft Stick Multiples’ sticks in conjunction with the posters and worksheets included in our Multiplication Gears Resource PackHere are a few activity ideas:

  • Lead a whole class math activity or math warm-up by calling out a multiplication problem, for example, 5 x 3 =, and ask your students to hold up the correct craft stick to reflect the product.
  • Flip things around by holding up a craft stick displaying a product and encouraging your students to write the corresponding multiplication number sentence.
  • Encourage your students to work with a partner to recall facts and show the correct craft stick.

Don’t miss our Multiplication teaching resource collection. You’ll find posters, hands-on learning materials, resource packs for parents, games, worksheets, and a multiplication worksheet generator.

Clip Counters

OMG, I totally love this math activity that’s bursting with color and magnetic fun! It’s so easy to create this cute craft stick math activity.

You will need:

  • colored craft sticks (available in most craft stores)
  • magnetic strips
  • magnetic numbers
  • colorful paper clips (make sure they are metal and not plastic).

Teach smart and differentiate by giving your student the same learning tools, but mixing up the activity! For example four differentiated activities might include encouraging your student to:

  • attach the correct number of paper clips to match the given number 0-10 ( in ascending order).
  • attach the correct number of paper clips to match the given number 10-0 ( in descending order).
  • working with a partner to add a magnetic number and the correct number of paper clips (in random numerical order).
  • doubling the magnetic number and attaching the correct number of paper clips.

Craft Stick Puzzles

Your more confident learners are going to love craft stick Puzzles. Just be sure to double-check your calculations!

These craft stick puzzles speak for themselves. Most importantly, this math activity can be used to encourage higher-order thinking. You could even challenge your students to create their own. To get the richest learning experience, don’t give too much away. I tried this with my son and simply passed him the popsicle sticks and asked – “What could we do with these?” It was fascinating to watch his brain ticking as he worked towards the solution.

Color Code Sticks

This super simple idea is ideal to use as one of your math center activities!

Lower grade students can explore color matching and pattern, while upper grades can explore polygons and angles!

For more ideas head to our Polygon Puzzles.

Shape Sticks

Are you teaching the names and properties of 2-D figures this 9-weeks? Your students will love this hands-on math activity! What’s more, it’s the ultimate math group activity. Keep your Shape Sticks in labeled zip-lock bags and use them time and time again.

Your students will learn the names and properties of shapes. You can easily extend learning by encouraging more confident learners to measure the angle of the vertices!

To sum it up, if you aren’t using craft sticks in your classroom already, it’s time! As you can see there are so many effective ways to use the frugal craft stick to create engaging hands-on math activities.

For more genius ways to use craft sticks in tour classroom read Holly’s blog 9 Clever and Creative Ways to Use Craft Sticks in the Classroom.

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Comments & feedback

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Sandra Twumasi

Good one there,more activities are needed

Sandra Twumasi · Sep 19th, 2019

Alison Smith

Hi Sandra, I’m glad that you liked these ideas! I hope that your students love them too.
Have a great day, Ali

Alison Smith · Sep 24th, 2019

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