This is Not a Stick

This theater game builds community and encourages students to expand their ideas of what something could be by acting it out.

This is Not a Stick

This is Not a Stick

Contributed by Katrina Avino Barracato

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This theater game builds community and encourages students to expand their ideas of what something could be by acting it out.


Model the game.

  • Play with a stick (a branch from a tree) until you have the students’ attention, waiting for them all to look at you. At this point, they are wondering why you have a branch in your hand. 
  • Then say, “This is not a stick, it’s a—” 
  • Without finishing the sentence, pretend the stick is a toothbrush, for example. Act it out using big gestures, then you can add sound and directional movement. 
  • When you are finished, say “Scene!” nice and loud. This lets the audience know you are done acting.
  • Have the audience guess what they think the stick was.
  • Choose someone from the audience to come up and try next.
  • Before they begin, have the audience say, “Three, two, one, action!” 
  • The student says, “This is not a stick, it’s a—” and then pretends the stick (or a different object) is something else. End by saying “Scene!”
  • Have the audience guess what the stick (or other object) was.
  • Repeat the game with as many objects as you would like. 

Reflection: Students can reflect on how they made choices about using their bodies, voices, and imaginations.

Transition into Activity

Get students into an audience or half circle formation. Play with the stick until all the students are watching.

Transition out of Activity

“Three more actors, and then this will turn back into a stick.”

Classroom Arrangement

  • Audience arrangement or circle, or half circle.
  • Students can be on the rug or in their seats. 
  • This can also work in a circle, passing the stick to the next student. (This is usually for students who are not shy, but could be great for students who want to know when it’s their turn.)

Supports/Adaptive Materials/Tools

  • This does not have to be a stick, it can be anything, like a pen or a soft ball. The title would just change: “This is not a pen, it’s a—” 
  • You don’t have to use your voice if you don’t want to. 
  • If a student wants to participate, but is shy, she/he can choose a partner to help act it out.
  • If a student has an idea, but does not want to act it out, the student can give the idea to a student who does want to act it out.
  • Students could work in teams or pairs.  
  • Students could pull ideas written down from a bag.
  • Students could have multiple objects available to choose from.
  • Write the sentence “This is not a ______ , it’s a—”  written down on the board, or a cue card. 
  • Have adaptive tools on hand.

Possible Roles for Classroom Professionals

  • Ask the Teachers or Paraprofessionals to give it a try right after you, so students see multiple variations before trying it themselves. 
  • They could hold a sentence starter sign if needed.
  • They could choose who is going next.

Adjustments for Remote Instruction

Laptop IconChoose an object that students have with them, like a pen or a notebook; students can type their guesses in the chat box.

Art forms


5-10 mins