This is the third in a series of periodic posts in which I test out easy, inexpensive, low-mess, low-parental-involvement activities for young children to do. In the first, I tested, um, dry pasta in cake pans. In the second: painting with water. Today’s test: marshmallows and toothpicks. This would be, of course, for children who are no longer in the young “trying to kill themselves with everything that exists” stage; my test children were both aged 3.75 years.
The children will make structures with the marshmallows and toothpicks, without eating the marshmallows or poking themselves with the toothpicks, and will thus justify my impulse buy of pastel, bunny-shaped marshmallows
- one bag of fresh marshmallows
- one box of toothpicks
- plastic bin thing to put toothpicks in for easier access, and to store the toothpicks in afterward
Five minutes, which included clearing, wiping, and drying the table. If you are the sort whose table is already cleared, wiped, and dried, this will not take you as long.
Time activity lasted before someone was whining again
Ten minutes for one child (because of frustration); almost an hour for the other
Parental assistance required
Set-up, plus periodic leaving the computer to admire their work or explain why their ideas were beyond the capacities of physics, plus many fieldings of requests to eat marshmallows
About ten minutes, but a lot of that was “part of the activity”: I had the kids take apart their own structures and sort the remains. Toothpicks were put in a plastic container to reuse, marshmallows were put back in bag and/or eaten, table/hands were wiped.
Child hated stickiness on his hand after he LICKED a marshmallow and SQUISHED it; bunny-shaped marshmallows not as sensible for structures as regular-shaped ones
I’ll let them use grapes, cheese cubes, apple chunks, etc., and then let them eat the non-toothpick elements of their structures for lunch.