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Maori Stick Game


Students will learn about the Maori culture in the New Zealand area and play the Maori Stick Game.

Main Curriculum Tie:
Social Studies - Kindergarten
Standard 1 Objective 1

Identify how individuals are similar and different.


Additional Resources


  • Lummi Sticks for Kids CD, by Laura Johnson (available from Kimbo Educational,, (800) 631-2187); Item# KIM2014CD, ISBN 1-56346-049-1
  • Utah Educators and Students can access CultureGrams by visiting Pioneer, Online Library.


Web Sites

Background For Teachers:
Students should have an understanding of what culture means and what it represents. Culture is a way of living. It can be your beliefs, a form of art or dance, and/or certain traditions or customs of a group of people. Each culture has certain traditions and cultural activities that we may learn and participate in as we live in that culture. This particular activity comes from the Maori culture. The Maori people live in the New Zealand area and make up about 15 percent of the population. This activity is a traditional game played by children and adults in the Maori culture called Maori Stick Game. It has been said that in olden times, stick games such as this helped train young men in spear fishing and handling a spear. This game has changed and been adapted by many other cultures throughout the world. Students will play an adapted, simplified version of the Maori Stick game.

Intended Learning Outcomes:
2. Develop social skills and ethical responsibility.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.

Instructional Procedures:
Invitation to Learn

Display a picture of a Maori warrior and the rhythm sticks. Ask the students to think of ways that you could use the rhythm sticks. Students will be using the sticks to play an old traditional Maori game that the Maori warriors played to practice their spear handling skills.

Instructional Procedures

  1. Discuss where the warrior pictured is from. Locate New Zealand on the map or globe.
  2. Show students the rhythm sticks they will be using for the game.
  3. Play a portion of the song E Papa Waiari and let the students listen to the music.
  4. Have students sit on the floor with their legs crossed. Practice keeping a steady beat (3 counts) by tapping their legs, floor, etc.
  5. Give each student two rhythm sticks and show them how to hold them vertically with their hands on the lower bottom portion of the sticks.
  6. Explain each move and its name. Call out moves while students practice.
    down—hitting both sticks on the floor at the same time
    tap—hitting the tips of the stick on the floor in front of you
    click—gently hitting sticks together at the tips
    together—gently hitting both sticks together flush
    cross click—gently hitting the tips of your sticks together making an X, alternate each hit with right on top left on top (quickly)
  7. Practice the various pattern combinations until the students are comfortable with the moves:
    Combination A
    down—hit both sticks on the floor in front of you (1 count)
    tap—hit the tips of one stick on floor in front of you alternate right hand left hand every other turn (2 counts)
    Combination B
    down—both sticks on the floor in front of you (1 count)
    together—gently hitting both sticks together flush (2 counts)
    Combination C
    cross click—gently hit the tips of your sticks together making an X, alternate each hit with right on top left on top (12 fast counts)
    Combination D
    down—hit both sticks on the floor in front of you (1 count)
    click—gently hitting sticks together at the tips alternate right hand, left hand every other turn (2 counts)
    resting spot—a designated place to put your sticks when they should not be making noise (both sticks resting on knees)
  8. Play the music again. Practice each of the patterns numerous times until students are comfortable. Have the students sit facing a partner (leaving enough space to hit the floor in front of them).
  9. Practice patterns A, B, C, and D with the music. As students become proficient, have them gently tap a partner’s stick as they do pattern A instead of tapping the floor.
  10. Follow the patterns and counts on the chart as the music plays.


  • Students make up their own rhythms for hitting the sticks.
  • Practice hitting the sticks to a beat from other pieces of music.
  • Choose some faster, some slower.
  • Learn the words to the E Papa Waiari song.
  • Play various instruments along with the E Papa Waiari song, keeping the beat and rhythm on the song.
  • Learn a new dance from another culture.

Family Connections

  • Make Maori sticks with rolled up newspaper and trying the patterns at home.
  • Discuss with your family the culture where your family members may have originated if it differs from where you grew up. Report back to class.
  • Graph the different areas of the world where studentsí families originated (e.g., North America, South America, continents, far from Utah/close to Utah, etc.).

Assessment Plan:

  • Show students a picture of a Maori warrior. Ask them who they think this man/warrior might be. Where do they think he lives? Students predict what they might do with the rhythm sticks.
  • Observe the students to see that everyone is participating in the activity.
  • Watch for students who may need help finding the rhythm of the game, monitor their progress, and assist as needed.


Research Basis

Suther, L., & Larkin,V. (1996). Early Childhood Arts Games (ERIC Education Resource Information Center) ED403-056

The arts are central to quality early childhood programs. Using games, music, dance, and movement help develop physical skills such as coordination, jumping, and ball handling. Cognitive skills such as language development, problem solving, and social skills (cooperation, sharing, and group negotiation) are enhanced through the arts.

Snyder-Sowers, M.A., & Kariuki, P. (1997). Effects of Creative Dance Movement Taught in a Holistic Integrated Approach versus Creative Dance Movement Taught in Isolation. (ERIC Education Resource Information Center) ED 432551

This study examined whether there were any significant differences in academic performance between students taught creative dance movement in a holistic integrated approach versus those taught creative dance movement in isolation.

Wang, J.H.T. (2003). The Effects of a Creative Movement Program on Motor Creativity of Children Ages Three to Five. (ERIC Education Resource Information Center) ED 479276

This study investigated the effects of a creative movement program on the motor creativity of Taiwanese preschool children, hypothesizing that there would be no significant difference in the motor creativity between children participating the creative movement program and those in the control group.

Utah LessonPlans

Created Date :
Aug 17 2005 15:38 PM

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