Idea for Pulling Sticks

Hey guys! Today I want to share with you something new I am going to try this year. In years past, I have used popsicle sticks to randomly call on students to answer questions. I use them a lot when I am doing review, specifically in Science and Social Studies. I love pulling sticks because the students never know who I'm going to call on, which causes them to pay closer attention. The only downfall I have is that I don't want to continually pull the same stick and have the same student answer multiple answer, or miss a stick and a student not have a turn. So I started laying the stick to the side once a student got an answer correct. This lead to another problem... Once the student answered a question correctly they quit paying attention because they knew I wouldn't be pulling their stick again. Sigh... This ruins the whole purpose of the review in the first place! However, I believe I have found the solution!

I have added colored dots on both ends of the popsicle stick using a sharpie: one blue, one red. (I choose these colors because it's the color scheme of my room. I'm a bit OCD about matchy matchy!) I'll begin by having all sticks having the same color sticking out. Once a student answers a question correctly I will turn their stick over so that the second color is showing. This way I know who has answered a question and who has not. It also causes students to continue paying attention after they have answered a question, since their stick is still in the cup and could still be pulled.

Here is my "sticks cup." I have two cups because I have two classes since we departmentalize. My homeroom has McDonald on the cup and the other class has their homeroom teacher's name on the cup. 

This is one of the sticks. I just used a blue and red sharpie for the dots. Easy and cheaper than buying actual dots to stick on it. 

I have seen an idea where a toilet paper role has been used hidden inside the cup. Once a student answers a question the stick goes into the toilet paper role, which keeps the pulled sticks and unpulled sticks separate.

If you use a different strategy for pulling sticks, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

I hope you enjoyed!


  1. I have used popsicle sticks for years with this same problem. Love your idea for solving it! I will definitely be doing that this year!

    Forever in Fifth Grade

  2. Ditto what Stephanie said. I will definitely be doing this with my popsicle sticks. Thank you.
    Artistry of Education

  3. Genius! So smart yet so simple.

  4. Brilliant Idea! Thanks for sharing!


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