Play | How to play Fly

How to play Fly - a game with sticks

Last week I casually wrote about my kids playing Fly and was totally surprised that so many people had never heard of this old-school game. I spent a good part of my childhood playing this classic game with my sisters. You can play it anywhere because all you need are a few sticks and an open space to play. It’s a very simple game to set up and is endless amounts of fun (not to mention fantabulous exercise). Best of all, kids of all ages (that means you!!) can play it together (although the little ones are at quite a disadvantage as you will soon see!).

Introduce your family to this game and see how much they love it.

What you need

How to play fly-8

  • A long, flat, preferably grassy, place to play. Nature strips were invented for this game.
  • At least five sticks, preferably straight and roughly the same size.

That’s it!

What you need to do

Decide who’s going first (rock, paper, scissors always a good one for this).

How to play fly-18

Line the sticks up roughly a foot apart.

Line up and take it in turns to step through the sticks, making sure you don’t touch a stick with your feet (if you touch a stick, you’re out!)


Once successfully through, you do the biggest leap you possibly can over the last stick (in other words, you fly!). Stay wherever you land and then choose one of the sticks in the row to be brought up to mark the place where you landed.

Imagine each stick has a number from 1 (the first stick in the row) through 5 (or as many sticks as you have). If you call “stick number 2″, the next person in the line will take the stick from position number two and bring it to place behind the heel of your foot.

How to play fly-3

How to play fly-6

As you can imagine, the sticks quickly move further and further apart and the game gets much harder.

How to play fly-2 How to play fly-9 How to play fly-4How to play fly-5

You are out if you touch a stick with your feet or if you need to take more than one step between each stick.

Keep playing until there is only one person left who can fly through the sticks. They are the winner!

How to play fly-7

It’s actually surprisingly complicated to explain this simple game, so here are Max and the Badoo to show you how to play Fly.

Maybe you know this simple game by another name?

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  1. says

    We love this game and also call it Fly. My Mum played with my sister and I when I was young thing. And now we play it with my boys- at the beach, the park and at home. For something so simple, it becomes a real challenge when the sticks are strategically moved further apart. A fun game that is absolutely free! Thanks for sharing such wonderful photos to show how it’s played.

    • Maxabella says

      It’s so nice to hear from a fellow Fly aficionado, Mardi. For a while there I was beginning to wonder if Fly existed anywhere but in my childhood! A search for it online came up with NOTHING, so I thought it was time we taught the world to Fly! x

      • says

        Hah, I have also done google searches in my time, and like you, found nothing! I think in Israel or the US, it may be called something else. It seems like it has become one of those games that has to be rekindled (with kindling!)

        • says

          Oooh, nice kindling pun. I thought exactly the same thing which is why I asked if people knew it as another name. SURELY there would be more Flyers out there than… none? But I could find no evidence. x

  2. says

    My mum taught you a that game as kids…and sadly I have neglected to pass on to my own kids…I will be changing that in the coming days…thanks for reminding me of the game. Xxxx

  3. says

    Not a game of my childhood. It sounds like great fun, so will have to try it out with my boy!

  4. says

    I remember playing this when I was in primary school! Although we played it with 3 sticks instead of five. So the person who went last was called the fly and after their jump the end stick was moved to their heel. Thankfully my friends and I were all about the same height so it made for long games!

    • Maxabella says

      It’s a good game for all kinds of ages, Karin. I quite like a go myself (and sore muscles result, so it must be doing something right!!). x

  5. says

    How awesome! I played all the games as a kid down at the Arno Bay Pub, Country SA.. with all the other kids on a Saturday night – all the old line games, Mr Wolf etc etc … but I never played this! (Note: that probably sounds like I spent a lot of time at the pub haha – just on the weekend, and it was such a social thing for the town…back in the days when a pack of kids outside on a hot summers night on the verandah or beer garden was safe). I heart growing up in a country town… my drinking started up a little later lol). I will definitely be showing my kids this! Thanks Bron!

    • Maxabella says

      For us it was the Bowlo, Donna. Back when kids were allowed to play on the green between games (an absolute no-no these days!). Enjoy having a go with the kids! x

  6. Michele says

    Never played that one as a kid but will be teaching it to mine. Love a great fun simple game that can be played pretty much anywhere.

    And my median strip do you mean nature strip or is this a state by state thing ( like bathers vs swimmers vs togs) as to me the median strip is in the middle of the road like the island….certainly adds another element to the game ……and nature strip is the grass at th front of your house

    • Maxabella says

      Oh gosh, good point, I think the median strip is the strip down the middle of a freeway! I think I’d better amend my post to ‘nature strip’. Thanks, Michele!! x

    • Maxabella says

      Are you telling me there is an outside game that I know that you haven’t taught your lucky kids yet, Penny? That’s such a win for me! Have a ball. x

  7. says

    I don’t kkow this game at all, but I love it! Thanks for sharing, I think my monkeys are going to love it too. Also, can I just say that I love the way you have written this post? The video is so sweet.

  8. says

    Oh I love this game and yep… I never had it in my repertoire, I’ll be adding it to my list of games to play with the little guy.
    Thank you.
    BTW, love the music on the video. x

  9. says

    Wow, I thought my childhood game repertoire was complete until now. I’m off to find a decent nature strip somewhere x
    P.S. Thank you so much for having me as a Rewind guest, I’ve had a blast.

  10. Kylie says

    I have just come on today to google the rule of play as I suddenly recalled playing it as a child when I was with my children at the local oval yesterday. I could remember most of it…but couldnt just remember how sticks moved. Thanks for sharing. I can now teach and play it with my kids. I loved it as a child. Such and simple game using nothing but nature!!

  11. Fe says

    I was taught this game by friends when i was 18, now i am at uni studying P.E and needed a game to teach kids to leap for distance ready for Athletics. This game is perfect! Tested on my fellow 3rd year FedUni Ballarat students, LOVED IT! WOOO!!

  12. tony says

    we played this in New Zealand in the 1970’s. we called it ‘sticks’. it is great to play, even now when i am over fifty, i still love to play lol

  13. Peter says

    Thank you for sharing this. My mother used to play this game as a young girl and she called it ‘stick fly’.

    • Maxabella says

      So nice to hear that, Peter. It was funny because when we were trying to remember the rules from our youth, I couldn’t find a single mention of ‘fly’ online at all. So I made one!

  14. Jayne says

    Hi Maxabella – thanks for putting this up. I put in a rather long winded description of the game in a google search and found this page! I can now add the game to my lesson plan. I, too, played this game as a child. I think it’s time I introduced the grandchildren!!

    • Maxabella says

      Hi Jayne – that’s so fantastic! I feel very happy to have reintroduced Fly to kids. It seems like it almost got away from us!! x

  15. Kristy says

    So chuffed I found this! Our 8 year old daughter has the assignment this week to ‘interview’ a grandparent about what life was like in the ‘past’ (imagine my mothers horror when she realised that her childhood is now considered the ‘past’ lol). So Nanny was telling Miss 8 all about her school and what they used to play, and when Nan talked about ‘fly’ it was met with a blank stare. Thank you for this post, I’m going to show Miss 8 in the morning so she can understand what Nan was talking about. And I’m going to see if I can teach the kids to play on the weekend!

    • Maxabella says

      I honestly think this is the BEST post I’ve ever written. Bringing the awesomeness that is Fly back to life. x

  16. TOM BIEGLER says

    We played Fly in the playground during lunch time at Sydney Boys High School in the late 1940s. It must have already been around for a while. I recall we were quite competitive.

    • Maxabella says

      Fly definitely brings out our competitive side too, Tom. Such a good playground activity. Of course, these days I’ll bet the kids aren’t even allowed to collect the sticks in the first place!!

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