Jumping Sticks

Activity Overview

Participants learn about and practise sending an object over a net and into a designated area. Participants learn about and practise defending an area on their side of the net. This activity is inspired by a Blackfoot game called Make the Stick Jump.


  • Gymnasium

Materials and Equipment

  • 3 flat sticks (e.g., wooden craft sticks) per group
  • Roll of tape per group
  • 1 volleyball per game
  • Volleyball poles (with proper padding) and a net (or alternative)


Inspect the activity area and eliminate potential hazards. Check that the activity surface provides safe traction. Set boundaries for the activity a safe distance from walls and obstacles. Provide a safe distance between activities.

Activity Information

Activity Set-up

  • Divide participants into groups (e.g., six to eight).
  • Two groups play each other in a game. The game takes place on a traditional volleyball court.
  • Each group sets up three squares on their side of their court using the tape and places a flat stick in each.

Activity Instructions

  • One group begins the game by serving the volleyball into the opposing group’s court with the goal of hitting one of the sticks and making it “jump.”
  • The receiving team defends their space by trying not to let the volleyball touch the ground or one of the sticks.
  • When the volleyball touches the ground, the group who sent the ball receives a point. When the volleyball makes one of the sticks “jump,” the sending group receives two points.
  • The group that receives the point serves the ball. Groups rotate positions after each point, regardless of who received the point. Group members work together to try to reach 10 points.
  • The leader asks open-ended questions to help participants refine their movement strategies and tactical solutions during the activity. Examples include: What strategies can you apply with your group to be successful at sending the ball into the other group’s open space or to one of the sticks? What are some strategies that you can apply within your group to defend your court? Describe some ways that you can work with your group to be successful.


To maximize the challenge and the fun, participants could identify their own ways to increase or decrease the challenge.

To decrease the challenge, participants could:

  • Catch and toss the ball.
  • Allow the ball to bounce once before returning it to the other side.
  • Decrease the court size.
  • Increase the number of squares and sticks.
  • Use a lighter and/or larger ball (e.g., beach ball).

To increase the challenge, participants could:

  • Increase the court size.
  • Receive points only if a stick is hit.
  • Decrease the number of squares and sticks.
  • Decrease the number of participants in the group.
  • Pass the ball three times on their side of the net before sending it to the other group.
  • Play with more than one ball.

Pause for Learning

Throughout the activity, consider highlighting the following skills, concepts, and strategies for effectively hitting a ball over a net and toward and object. Note that this list is not exhaustive, and further learning opportunities may arise during the task.

Movement Skills and Concepts

  • Locomotion and relationship: knowing where to move to be successful at sending and receiving an object over a net while playing with other participants (e.g., moving toward the back of the court when the ball is coming from a high distance; moving to an optimal location on the court to receive a pass)
  • Manipulation skills and effort awareness: applying a controlled force to send an object over a net (e.g., being able to control the force when sending an object over a net so that it is hard for the opponent to return the object)

Movement Strategies

  • Tactical awareness: developing an understanding of the principles of play (e.g., knowing where and how to send and receive the object over the net to score the maximum number of points)
  • Performance: demonstrating appropriate skills, techniques, and tactics to send and receive an object over a net (e.g., creating strategies with the group to make it challenging for the opponents to receive the object, such as sending the object into the open space

Living Skills

Interpersonal Skills

  • Demonstrating teamwork by collaborating with other participants to send the object over the net to score the maximum number of points

Critical and Creative Thinking Skills

  • Evaluating and reflecting on the different plays of the game to come up with strategies that will help the group be more successful or make the challenge more interesting and fun

First Nations Inspiration

Make the Stick Jump was traditionally played by young boys to practise their throwing for hunting. The accuracy and speed of their throws prepared them for small game hunting. In addition, the sticks and markers used in the game could quickly be made from materials found in the natural environment, making it a fun and accessible game for all. The game is now played by all children.