Friday, February 11, 2011

Do It Yourself: Marshmallow and Toothpick Erector Set

Beatrice with our creation.

It's cold. It's really cold, and Beatrice is bored. Really bored. While we could play another round of Tea Party the game, today I decided to try something a little different. We built a structure out of marshmallows and toothpicks.

Here is what you need to try it too:
One bag of mini marshmallows
AT LEAST 2 -250 count boxes of toothpicks (we use the round ones because my kids are used to being around pointy things, but flat would work too)

Start simply by showing your child how to stick the toothpicks into the marshmallows. Explore basic shapes like barbells, wands, triangles, squares, etc. Move on to more complex shapes like cubes etc. Beatrice and I worked together on our structure. We started by building onto our simple shapes as the structure grew, we talked about what shapes were the strongest (triangles) and how to build support to hold up the structure. As one piece sagged, we built others to hold it up. We played for almost 45 minutes.

Beatrice is 3 and a half years old, and she was able to add to the structure and support her own additions. I helped her if she asked and worked on the "groundwork" to make sure she had a good time building. The structure will continually morph as you build. Parts will sag down as you prop up other parts. Pyramidal supports will hold up sagging sections while emphasizing the importance of supporting structures. See the photos for examples.

Building with blocks, legos, tinker toys or even marshmallows and toothpicks teaches very important spatial and mathematical concepts to your child and is rewarding and fun!


The Masterpiece!