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An Exciting Cold Calling Method For All Classrooms In a Few Easy Steps

A picture featuring cold calling sticks.

Do you use cold calling in your classroom? If you're unfamiliar with the term, cold calling is used to randomly pick students to call on while teaching a lesson. This helps you steer clear of choosing the same students who frequently raise their hands while giving you the opportunity to allow all student voices to be heard. It can be used any time during the day and can really bring life and joy to your classroom environment.

I spent the weekend before school began creating a new set of cold calling sticks. I think they add a little color to the classroom, variety, and are something everyone can use! Follow the steps I've included below to create your own!


Gathered supplies used to create cold calling sticks.  Included are jumbo craft sticks, paint in five different bright colors, a sponge paintbrush, and a paper plate.

You need to begin by gathering all your materials. First and foremost, craft sticks are the number one item you NEED to have. Size doesn't entirely matter but I love the jumbo sticks the most! All other items are dependant upon what you are looking for or if you have a theme. Of course, you'll definitely need a utensil to write names with.


This picture includes five groups of jumbo craft sticks on top of a poster board with four sticks being painted yellow.

I like to begin by using an old cardboard box or posterboard (I use the same board frequently and store it in my garage). I place the sticks on the board. I organized by the number of sticks I needed and then by the colors I was painting with, just to add a random variety. One color would be just fine.

I painted one side of all the sticks using an assortment of colors I purchased in one large package and separate foam brushes that I didn't mind tossing after usage. Let them dry for about five minutes and then added two more coats until allowing them to dry before flipping over. I then repeated the same process for the backside.

This picture features five groups of painted popsicle sticks in a variety of colors.

After I painted all the centers, I finished the tips with a reddish eraser-like color and the bottom with a grey color. The final product was meant to mimic a pencil.


After all the paint was dry, I used a permanent marker to make lines between the tips and I added student names to the sticks. I then placed all sticks in a jar for easy storage!

I would love to know which cold calling examples you use in your classroom or if you plan to start cold calling now?!


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4 Responses

  1. These are really cute! I tell my upper grade students that they’re called Victim Sticks. I say, “If I don’t get any new volunteers, I’ll draw victims!” The kids always laugh and, sometimes, I get fresh volunteers. Lol.

    1. Oh, I’m curious. What is the ‘victims’ idea? Sounds interesting. I ran out of time to pain this year and decided to go with rainbow-colored sticks from Wal-Mart. I love listening to my students try to guess who is on the other side of the stick. It’s hilarious.

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