There are certain household items you can use in low-tech games. If you have a box of toothpicks on hand, you can incorporate them into party or group activities. Both children and adults alike can participate in toothpick games that challenge their concentration or problem-solving skills.
The game of Pick-up Sticks is generally played with large colored sticks. You can, however, try the game with a box of small colored toothpicks. Decide among players who will go first. Have one player pick up all of the toothpicks and hold them vertically in a bundle, then let go of the toothpicks and let them fall into a pile on the floor. Players take turns trying to pick up a toothpick without touching or moving other toothpicks. If a player moves another toothpick, he must forfeit his turn. Play continues until all the toothpicks are picked up. The player who has collected the most toothpicks in the end wins.
Pass a toothpick out to each player. Players should divide into two teams and each team should organize into a line. Give the person at the beginning of each line a candy lifesaver. The line leader should place the end of her toothpicks in her mouth and place a lifesavers on the toothpick. The rest of the players should place the ends of their toothpicks in their mouths as well. The line leader passes her lifesaver down the team line. Players must try to transfer the lifesaver to the next person's toothpick without using their hands. The first team that passes their lifesaver to the end of the line wins the game.
See who can build the highest tower using only toothpicks and miniature marshmallows. Determine how long players will have to build their towers and set a timer. Players can work in teams or by themselves. If you don't have miniature marshmallows, you can substitute gumdrops. Players can build their towers however they want, but they must use only toothpicks and marshmallows or gumdrops as building materials. Once the time limit is up, have players measure their towers with a ruler or tape measure to see whose is the tallest.
You can use toothpicks to solve mathematical puzzles. The AIMS Education Foundation website has ideas for toothpick puzzles that teach geometric shapes and problem-solving skills for which you can use toothpicks. Print out the toothpick activity sheets on the website and begin to solve puzzles. Activity sheets have different lists of challenges that begin easy and work their way up to harder challenges.
- "Great Big Book of Children's Games: Over 450 Indoor and Outdoor Games for Kids"; Debra Wise; 2003
- Party Game Ideas; Toothpick Lifesaver Race; 2010
- Party Games Pond; Marshmallow Tower; 2009
- AIMS Education Foundation; Toothpick Puzzles; 2011
- AIMS Education Foundation; Reducing Squares; 2011
Julia Drake has been writing since 2007 when she had her first article published in “The Beltane Papers.” She received her Bachelor of Arts in women studies from the University of Washington. She recently completed her Master of Arts in women’s spirituality at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.