What Can You Do With a Toothpick?

This creative thinking activity is like the paper clip exercise, but with a toothpick.

The point of this exercise is to find ways to use a tooth pick that are different. By building up your divergent thinking skills, you can think more creatively and solve problems in a different manner. When we limit ourselves to only one answer, or only the “right” answer, we can miss out on a lot of options. Whether it’s choosing a less-traveled path for ourselves or for characters, or coming up with an unusual solution to a problem at school or work, or having the ability to solve a problem we’d previously thought unsolvable, divergent thinking prepares us to consider a wide variety of options.

Young children, in kindergarten or younger, tend to be better at these exercises because their imaginations haven’t been tampered with yet. So maybe, when you’re doing this exercise today, consider the toothpick from a child’s perspective. Don’t limit yourself. You can do anything with the toothpick. If you get stuck, ask yourself, “What if” questions and see if it gives you other ideas. Remember: there are no bad ideas for this exercise.

If you have a toothpick on hand, pick it up, touch it and get acquainted with it.  Set an alarm for three minutes and write down everything you can think of before the alarm goes off.

Set another alarm for a minute, and just sit. When that alarm goes off, reset the minute alarm and write down everything else you can think of.

What ideas did you come up with? Did you feel that you came up with more unique ideas during the last minute?


Challenge Yourself: For another component to the exercise, add a few things to your list over the next week. By continuing to think about, did you come up with anything new? Did you expand your thinking?

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  1. Big FANS says:

    What to do with toothpick(s)? Play a a game of miniature FIDDLESTICKS. Never heard of the game? That’s because you’re too young to remember a houosehold without TV. It was a game intended to amuse children and adults on a winter evening while listenening to the GREEN HORNET on the radio. A toothpick can be used to plug a hole, bind a loose screw, plug a leak, offend someone by piking your teeth while talking to them. Toothpicks can be used as engineering tools to build a stres model of a proposed bridge desing. A toothpick can be used as a defensive tool against an assailant who thinks they’ve disarmed you by confiscating your nail file. Being peirce by a toothpick really, really hurts. Manufacture of toothpicks will keep hundreds of people on a payroll; right from the forester, woodsman, wood mill, packager, wholesaler, retailer and consumer. Don’t ignore the lowly toohpick as you travel through life’s journey. It might be the very thing to jump start your career.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you so much for sharing these! I love them! They’re fabulously creative.

      By the way, is FIDDLESTICKS like “Pick Up Sticks?”

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