Have you noticed the big emphasis on both creativity and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills for kids lately? At first glance these two things may seem to be in opposition, but in reality creative thinking and innovation are necessities to scientific and technological advancement.
So how do we foster these skills in our kids at home? By providing lots of engaging and open-ended set ups to get them flexing both their analytical and creative muscles. This simple (and fun) building activity is one of my all-time favorites for accomplishing these goals.
A big part of the appeal of this activity are the exciting materials: candy!
Traditionally this project uses mini marshmallows as building blocks and toothpicks as connectors. We added colorful gum drop candies because they add a visual pop and are also more stable than marshmallows, leading to less frustration for our littlest engineers. The various colors also provide the opportunity to practice color sorting and pattern making.
When first introducing this activity, hold off on giving lots of direction and let your kids take it in whatever direction they choose. Our 4-year-old son wanted to start off making a car.
Meanwhile, our 2-year-old daughter began to naturally sort the candy by colors and created several matching “dumbbells.”
These materials are also ideal for exploring lots of 3D geometric structures. Older kids may even use them to create various molecular models.
You can see the kids jumped into this activity with enthusiasm and it didn’t take long before all sorts of crazy contraptions were taking shape.
In fact everyone in the family, age 2 to 32, thoroughly enjoyed this project. It’s one we will certainly return to again and again.
Photo Credits: Stephanie Morgan