Flower sticks / Juggle sticks
A set of flower sticks consists of one longer stick with expanded ends, called the flower stick, and two shorter sticks, called the control sticks, that are used to toss the flower stick.
These sticks are made of dowels with a wrapping of inner tubing. The flower stick is a dowel stick, about 60 cm long, also wrapped in strips of inner tubing along its length. At each end inner tubing is used to shape a “flower” which gives the stick its weight.
You use the control sticks to toss the flower stick into the air in many different ways. Children enjoy these games. You can teach a child to toss the flower stick successfully if you start carefully with simple tasks that are easy to achieve and lead to success.
Holding the control sticks horizontal in front of the body requires good control of the position of the shoulders and elbows and strengthens the muscles around these joints.
Flower sticks can be purchased from juggling shop or craft markets.
Using flower stick for strength, endurance and coordination
Flower stick activities are a very good way to train a child to hold the arms in front of the body with the elbows held close to the body. (Children with movement difficulties tend to lift the arms with the elbows away from the body – this makes it difficult to position the hands for manipulating objects)
Holding the control sticks level in front of the body strengthens the elbow and wrist muscles.
Learning to catch and throw the flower stick takes focused attention and repeated practice. With a little adult social support, children are often willing to work hard at this task because it is new and interesting.
The flower stick tends to be quite heavy and provides an effective load for strengthening the arm muscles, especially if the activities are repeated until the child’s arms start to tire. You know that the arms are getting tired when the child’s skill level starts to drop.
Getting the hang of balancing and throwing the flower stick
Balancing the flower stick on the control sticks
Stand holding the control sticks in front of the body.
Rolling the flower sticks up your arms
Stand holding the flower stick balanced on the control sticks.
Straighten your elbows and lift your arms so that the flower sticks roll all the way up to your shoulders.
|Now let the flower stick roll down your arms onto the control sticks again.|
1. This activity demands good control of the level of the control sticks to get the flower stick rolling up the arms, and then to stop it rolling off the end on the way down.
2. This activity really engages young children.
3. Stand by to pick up the flower stick when it falls off so that the child can practice the activity rather than spend a lot of time picking up and balancing the flower stick on the control sticks.
Repositioning the flower stick on the control stick
Children often have difficulty positioning the flower stick on the control sticks before they initiate a throw. Practice moving the flower stick to the close to the end of the control sticks and then back close to the hands. This can be done by tipping the control sticks so the flower stick rolls in the desired direction and then leveling the control sticks to stop the flower stick from rolling any further.
Also practice making small quick up and down movements of the control sticks to bounce the flower stick along the control sticks.
Throwing the flowers stick to a partner
Balance the flower stick about 15 cm away from the end of the control sticks.
Encourage the child to pause between catching and throwing in order to gain control of the stick and prepare effectively for the next throw
Throwing the flower stick up and catching it again
Carefully throw the flower stick directly upwards a short distance and catch it again.
Pause to get the control sticks level and balance the flower stick. Now throw the flower stick up again.
As you get better at throwing and catching the flower stick small distances, start to throw it a little harder so that it goes higher.
Measuring your progress
Can you throw the stick up 3 times in a row without dropping it once? Next try 4 throws without dropping it.
Encourage the child to pause between catching and throwing in order to gain control of the stick and prepare effectively for the next throw.