- Marshmallows of various sizes (stale ones will work better!)
- Plastic drinking straws
- Safety scissors
Recipe for Playful Learning!
Little engineers can connect toothpicks, straws, and marshmallows to create a one-of-a-kind work of art.
STEP 1: Using a pair of safety scissors, cut the plastic straws into a variety of lengths.
STEP 2: Encourage kids to experiment by connecting the toothpicks and straws with the marshmallows to make a 2D shape like a square or a triangle. Ask them to observe what works best. HINT: Toothpicks may work better with mini marshmallows while straws may work better with large marshmallows.
STEP 3: Next, ask them what other types of structures they can build. As they work, encourage them to “try something different” (examples below) to overcome any problems they encounter. This open-ended exploration is a great way to investigate STEAM concepts.
- Build a two- or three-level structure (i.e., a bridge)
- Build a structure using only one shape (i.e., only triangles)
- Create a structure that can hold a piece of paper or a sturdier structure to hold a toy car
To simplify, provide children with just one size of marshmallows and either pre-cut straws or toothpicks to experiment with. As they get comfortable creating sturdy structures, add more variation in size and materials.
To add complexity, work to create a tall structure out of the materials. The weight of larger marshmallows can make it more challenging to build higher structures and short toothpicks can limit the number of mini marshmallows that that kids can use. Encourage your kids to discover the limitations of these materials and suggest they look around the house for alternative items to add to their marshmallow structures.
STEAM Focus: Engineering