Making Marshmallow and Toothpick Sculptures

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Toothpick and Marshmallow Sculptures for Kids - Construction for KidsMaking marshmallow and toothpick sculptures is an activity that I’ve been wanting to try with Maia for a while now.

I think I first came across the idea of building toothpick sculptures in one of MaryAnn Kohl’s books—maybe Scribble Art.

I just kept it in the back of my mind as part of my neverending list of artful projects to do one day.

Until early December that is.

I found myself in the baking aisle of the grocery store for the umpteenth time and finally snagged a bag of mini marshmallows.

Since I remembered something about hard, stale marshmallows working better than soft ones, I spread them out on a cookie sheet, and stashed them out of sight above the kitchen cupboards (otherwise I’m sure they wouldn’t have lasted long with our marshmallow-loving kid around). But of course out of sight is out of mind, and I completely forgot about them until yesterday.

They were nice and stale!

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Making these marshmallow and toothpick sculptures was the perfect after-school construction project to do with Maia.

We connected the marshmallows with toothpicks. Or rather, connected the toothpicks with marshmallows.

What started off as a low-key sculpture-building activity became a lesson in building and geometry as we learned what shapes were the strongest and provided the most support (triangles rule!).

Here are a few pics:

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A marshmallow and toothpick ladder to the moon…

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Some marshmallow and toothpick houses…

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The beginnings of a more elaborate marshmallow and toothpick sculpture…

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And one of the finished marshmallow and toothpick sculptures!

Have you tried building with toothpicks yet?

If not, I highly recommend it!

More Toothpick Sculptures

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37 Comments

  • Reply
    Jacqueline
    January 8, 2011 at 7:25 am

    This also works well with foam packing pieces, but they aren’t as tasty!

  • Reply
    Kim
    January 8, 2011 at 7:27 am

    We did this for my son’s science-themed birthday party as an activity as the kids arrived. We used gum drops and it worked great! Lots of fun. Even the adults enjoyed it.
    Looks like a great snowy day activity.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 8, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I must try this with Pari! Great to enhance hand-eye coordination and imagination!
    Lovely photos..!

  • Reply
    Christina
    January 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

    A fun read is the “Marshmallow Incident” by the same folks that wrote “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” …

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle, ART IN HAND
    January 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Done this several times with elementary school kids, and always a hit, but didn’t think to use stale marshmallows. It definitely would have helped!

  • Reply
    simplegirl
    January 8, 2011 at 11:06 am

    wonderful project!

  • Reply
    Alex
    January 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Ha! I just did that with Miss 3 1/2, and she put each one on a toothpick…and then into her mouth. I modeled building, etc, and she ate until she had a big meltdown later. Now she keeps asking to “build with marshmallows.” My mom did this with me in the 70s with soaked dried peas. I just saw them at a health food market yesterday and I think I’ll try that next.

  • Reply
    Brandi
    January 8, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    This looks like fun! I think I will have to wait til my daughter is a little bit older…

  • Reply
    Megan
    January 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    This is one of our favorite camping activities! When the kiddos get restless, we pull this out but we also add cheerios or Fruit loops.
    The kids get really creative and it provides a snack as well! Mess-free fun!

  • Reply
    JDaniel4's Mom
    January 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    This looks like hours of fun! Great idea!

  • Reply
    Love and Lollipops
    January 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    What fun!

  • Reply
    sherrieg
    January 8, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    We did this a little while back with our 3 yr old, and he loved it! We used a fresh bag of marshmallows, but I think that stale ones would definitely have worked better. They were a little bit too soft. Super fun!
    http://twentytwopleasant.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-keep-3-year-old-busy-and-other.html

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle (ART IN HAND)
    January 8, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Love this add-on idea!

  • Reply
    Tammy
    January 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Fun!!! My daughters (8 + 11) love this, and fresh marshmallows do work wonderfully. This was one of the activities at my daughter’s 11th birthday party and it was a hit with the kids, aged 7-11.

  • Reply
    Arborescence
    January 9, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Ooooohh! I love this idea! Next time, I am at the grocery store I am going to score some marshmallows!!! Thanks!!

  • Reply
    toasted
    January 9, 2011 at 12:10 am

    I love the idea, and the further suggestions. The possibilities are endless…

  • Reply
    Motherhood Moments
    January 9, 2011 at 3:20 am

    What an AWESOME idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Good to know for next time we receive a package filled with them!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Oh yes! I bet they would work well with gum drops!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Thanks! :)

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Thanks for the recommendation! I just put a hold on it at our library.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I think Maia would have done the same (she loves marshmallows), but I told her they were stale and not for eating.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I like this add-on idea as well! Perhaps next time…

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Oh! I SO want to build a geodesic dome with them!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I like the idea of using this as a party activity!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 9, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Thanks, as always, for all the lovely comments!!

  • Reply
    MaryAnn F. Kohl, art book author
    January 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Kids love making those long ladders… fun!! It’s one of those ideas that is just that, FUN!

  • Reply
    MaryAnn F. Kohl, art book author
    January 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    You can also do this with dried peas soaked in water overnight to make them soft, and then when the sculpture dries again the peas harden and the sculpture is strong. But it takes more dexterity so better for older kids.

  • Reply
    dana
    January 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    this is a really fun activity–we did it last year, but could probably do it again! i love how the marshmallows get harder as you leave it for a couple of days and adds stability!

  • Reply
    bronwyn
    January 10, 2011 at 11:43 am

    What a great idea! My 4 year old is really into building right now. Maia’s sculptures are gorgeous! Isnt’t it amazing what kids can create? I can’t wait to try this with my daughter.

  • Reply
    Acacia @ Be Present
    January 10, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Hee, hee. Planned on doing this to make snowflakes today and add white glitter, cuz it’s finally snowing a good bountiful snow in Kansas City. Love it!
    Just found your blog through Rhythm of the HOme. Lovely, creative blog and family. Perfect fit for me. I was an art teacher previous to staying home so we do a lot of creating too.

  • Reply
    Yelena
    January 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Jean, thank you so much for a very timely post. With all the icy rain last night we were stuck indoors all day today and this sure came in handy – http://ducttaperocket.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/tinkering-with-marshmallows/. I completely forgot about letting the ‘mallows get a bit stale, so we used fresh ones with great results. As usual, you’re an inspiration!

  • Reply
    dawn
    January 14, 2011 at 9:31 am

    thanks for the ideas!

  • Reply
    Melanie
    January 22, 2011 at 11:26 am

    We did it after a Sunday dinner! I thought my 3 & 6 year old grandsons would like it – and they did! Building with Uncle Jake who is 23, so funny!

  • Reply
    diana
    January 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I just did this with my 3 1/2 year old. Even though we used soft marshmallows we had no problem with over eating them. He was careful to ask. Also I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed using the stale marshmallows as much. Here’s what our project turned out looking like! http://chocolatehug.blogspot.com/2011/01/marshmellmoe-castle.html

  • Reply
    amy
    February 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    we did this activity at my son’s preschool last week and it was a huge hit! the kids were lined up at the activity table to get a turn. the kids were really into it. loved everyone’s ideas…especially the packing peanuts idea.

  • Reply
    Fred Collinsworth
    April 4, 2011 at 3:15 am

    This activity reminds me of my Science project. I also used toothpicks and marshmallows for presenting atomic models. Actually, I’ve used different colors of marshmallows to differentiate the elements.

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