poohsticks bridge over stream

How To Play The Wonderful Game Of Poohsticks

Poohsticks is one of those childhood games that just never seems to get old. I always loved playing it when I was younger, and I love that Cupar now enjoys playing it too, especially because I get to act like a big kid again! We have a river and quite a few bridges around where we live, so it’s a game we play quite a lot, especially on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon.

If you’ve never played Poohsticks before, it doesn’t take long to learn at all, and the rules are really quite simple.

Read on to find out what you need to be able to play, the rules of the game, and how you can teach your kids different skills without them even realising that they’re learning!

So what is Poohsticks anyway?

Poohsticks is a stunningly simple, but fun game that originally came from the book The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne. It’s a game that children of all ages will love playing and appeals to children and adults alike.

It’s the perfect game to play when you’re out for a walk, and it can be played at pretty much any time of the year, and in any weather. Though you would need some crazy skills to play it when it’s particularly windy outside.

How many people

You need at least two people to play Poohsticks properly, but as it is a competitive game, the more people you can round up the better! 

What you need

The two main things you need for this game are sticks and a bridge over a stream or river. If you’re feeling creative, you can also add in some materials to decorate your sticks with, and a pen and paper to keep the scores on.

A path full of sticks to use for poohsticks
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

How to play Poohsticks

Playing Poohsticks is really quite simple and doesn’t need much setting up at all.

First things first, find a bridge that is big enough and not too busy (i.e. one that doesn’t have a road or lots of people running along it). Hunt out some good size sticks which are big enough to see from the bridge, and either decorate them or decide how you’re going to tell them apart once they’re in the water.

Determine which way the current is going, and stand on the side of the bridge that has the water running towards you. Get everyone to line up side by side and hold their sticks over the edge of the bridge while trying to keep their arms at the same height as each other. Count to three, all drop your sticks in the water at the same time and then run over to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick comes out first.

Scoring ideas

Scoring for Poohsticks can be really simple and straightforward. Simply award one point for the first stick to come out from under the bridge. The winner can be the first person to reach a certain number of points, depending on how many people are playing.

If you fancy teaching some counting and maths skills while you’re playing, you can get a little more complex with your scoring.

One way to do this could be to award three points for the first stick to come under the bridge, two for the second and one for the third. Then every time you add up the scores together, the children are doing a little bit of learning without even thinking about it.

Stick decorating and different styles

If you’re in a larger group, then it can be difficult to remember which stick belongs to who, especially if they’re all around the same size. If you’ve got some time to spare, then why not get creative and decorate your sticks so that you can tell them apart.

Obviously you don’t want to put anything on your sticks that you don’t want to get in the water, so think natural decorating materials such as flowers and leaves.

Flowers or daisy chains wrapped around a stick can work really well, also leaves with a hole in the middle of them which are then pushed onto the stick can be effective.

Have an experiment, and see what works for you.

Someone standing on crunchy leaves
Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Experiment with different sticks

Another thing to have a play around with is the different types of sticks that are available. Do you want a long or a short stick, or a thick or a thin stick? Do you want a stick with branches and leaves on it, or will a smooth stick do better in the water?

Also, you could try experimenting with sticks from different trees too, and see which ones work better than others.

Take a notebook and pen with you and get the kids to keep a note of what they find and what works and what doesn’t.

What children will learn

Surprisingly, there are a lot of things that children can learn while they’re playing Poohsticks. It’s a great opportunity to talk about rivers and currents, and how they work. Hunting down some sticks can be a great time to talk about trees and nature, and of course, as Poohsticks takes place on a bridge, you can even teach the kids about bridges and how they’re made.

Did you ever play Poohsticks when you were younger? Or is it a game you enjoy with your children now?

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