Teach Outside
Resources and inspiration for current and aspiring outdoor educators and those interested in a natural learning environment.

Ohlone Hoop and Pole Game


Ohlone Hoop and Pole Game



Throwing Poles
Ours are bamboo stakes purchased from a nursery. The edges have been sanded down to round them off a bit, which can be achieved by rubbing in one direction on asphalt.

Small hoop was made by wrapping a small grapevine wreath from Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store with strips of bark from a willow tree which have been soaking for over 24 hours in water to soften them. It is extremely important to wrap the willow bark in an overlapping fashion and to splice the new ends under the bark layers. All ends must be securely pushed under the wrapping layers. If it is well made, the hoop can be used immediately.


Strips of willow bark are soaking in water, weighed down by stumps, in preparation for wrapping around grapevine wreaths.

A large hoop can be a homemade hula-type hoop made with approximately 10’ of 3/4” black drip irrigation tubing with the ends held together by a connector, resulting in an approximately 1 yard “hula hoop.”


A traditional Ohlone (San Francisco Bay Area) game for children was for a pole to be thrown through a hoop which has been rolled in front of the thrower by another participant. Two points could be scored by throwing the pole all the way though the hoop, and one point by having the pole just touching the hoop.

The game can be adjusted for younger children by using a larger hoop or making the hoops stationary.

A discussion of safety rules is essential! Make sure poles are thrown in a direction away from other people.


Teachers learning to play the game.


Display of other Ohlone game pieces.


This was taught to me by Dino Labiste, a Naturalist with the East Bay Regional Parks District in a class entitled, "Ohlone Tools and Games for Your Classroom." While it appears this class is no longer being taught, a resource page can be found on the East Bay Regional Parks website.

Lesson plan adapted by Heather Taylor, teachoutside@gmail.com. You are welcome to share all materials with credit to her.