Math Counts

Marshmallow Building

Ideal for Preschool/Pre-K

A young child plays with orange playdough

This activity promotes development and learning by encouraging children to demonstrate an understanding of shapes, spatial sense, and patterns.

Materials Needed:

  • Toothpicks or straws (cut the straws into a variety of lengths)
  • Play dough, marshmallows, or another pliable material
  • Paper
  • Writing materials

Participants: This activity is intended for adult/child interaction.


  1. Show your child how to make one-dimensional shapes by inserting the toothpicks into balls of play dough or marshmallows. Now try making three dimensional shapes. Older children can build more complex structures, such as bridges or towers. (Do not offer toothpicks to younger children.)
  2. Get creative. Use these building materials to make patterns or offer a building challenge. “How long or high can you make your structure?”
  3. Place your structures in an area with natural light or under a lamp. Notice the shadow cast by the structure. Trace it on a piece of paper.

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