Frugal Parenting (featured column)
by Rachel Keller
I began collecting popsicle sticks as an elementary teacher. Students from every grade brought me popsicle sticks until I had a couple ice cream buckets full. Since then, my children have enjoyed playing with these and my supply has diminished to one bucket full. So what exactly can you do with a bucket of popsicle sticks?
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If you have new craft sticks, use them for homemade gelatin or pudding pops. (See Cool Treats That Won’t Chill Your Budget for some great recipes.)
Use sticks to support house plants. You can decorate these if you wish. When giving a house plant away, write the name of the plant on a stick and place in the pot. Write instructions (i.e., water once a week) on the back of a stick or another stick.
When your children want to paint, use popsicle sticks as paint stirrers.
Make a wishing well with a baby food jar (or can) and popsicle sticks. Cut the sticks in half and glue around the jar. Use more craft sticks cut in half to make a slanted roof. Attach the roof with two more popsicle sticks placed in the inside of the jar. This makes a very cute craft! (If you use a larger can, you don’t have to cut the sticks in half.)
Use popsicle sticks to make a variety of baskets, decorative cans, and or holders. You can either glue the sticks to a can, or start stacking sticks together to make an unusual box.
Make "God’s Eyes." I made these when I was young, but never knew what they were called. They are very easy and attractive when finished. You can either tie or glue two sticks into a cross shape. Take one color of yarn and wrap it over and around one stick, then over and around the next, and so on. When you finish that color, you have your "eye." Cut the yarn and knot another color to continue weaving. (Make certain all knots stay in the back.) You can tie or glue some string or yarn to hang the decoration.
Build your own log cabin. If you have enough sticks, you could make a whole village!
One of my sons enjoyed making small rafts to float in the bathtub or sink. He used a couple sticks for the base, and glued the rest of the sticks the opposite direction.
Glue four craft sticks together to make a frame around a picture or recycled card.
Make an original bookmarker.
Use popsicle sticks to make puppets. By gluing a popsicle stick to a paper or cardboard figure, you can have a quick and easy stick puppet.
Popsicle sticks are great teaching tools.
Use them as counters for young children.
Paint sticks various colors to teach colors, patterns, classification, etc.
Craft sticks can also help a child understand place value.
One stick represents the ones column. Group 10 sticks together for the tens column and 10 bundles for the 100s column. You can have smaller bundles by using beans for the ones place value and gluing 10 beans on a single stick. Group 10 sticks to together to make a hundred.
Use craft sticks to teach addition and subtraction facts.
Make a musical shaker by putting some beads, beans, or other small objects between two small foam or paper plates. Staple or glue together attaching a popsicle stick to it.
If you’re really artistic and creative, you can come up with so many more ideas, like making doll furniture, light switch covers, and more. Let your children have fun making toys, crafts, or using them in games.
Do you have other uses for popsicle sticks? We would love to hear your ideas!
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Compiled by Editor
"Here's one use that I have found for the sticks. I practice woodburning on them. You can burn feathers to perfect your stroking. Then you can give them away as book markers. Kids love them, especially your grandchildren." - Naomi I.
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Copyright © 2006 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.