Gumdrop Sculptures

The provocation: A bowl of gumdrops and a handful of toothpicks.

The first question: “Can I eat these?”

Oh yeah, I guess they do kind of look like a snack.

The second provocation (after we each ate a gumdrop, just to get that elephant out of the room): A square base of four gumdrops, attached together with four toothpicks, and one more toothpick sticking straight up out of the base.

And with that, the race gates opened and the horses were off! Without saying another word, N quickly understood the challenge and got right to work. And what small child on a minor sugar high wouldn’t be excited to work with colorful toothpicks and rainbow-colored gumdrops?

Notice little sister in the background. I promise some baby-related activities one day soon.

A few months back I set up a similar provocation with marshmallows and toothpicks, and while we were able to build some simple structures, it was a small flop. It’s easy enough to pierce the marshmallows with toothpicks, but they don’t do as good of a job holding a complex structure together. I also tested jellybeans, but the hard candy surface wasn’t forgiving enough. The gumdrops are really malleable and my daughter didn’t need too much of my help manipulating them. So empowering!

She decided this structure was a cable car — we live near San Francisco, after all — so we found a couple passengers interested in taking a ride.

After she built this form she exclaimed, “It’s a pitched roof!!” Ah, I love witnessing the transfer of knowledge. You never know when these moments are going to hit, and it’s so fun to be there when they do.

And this is what she accomplished before it was time to get dinner ready. After dinner she and her dad kept working on these, and then there was more building the next day. As the structures got bigger and more complex, we talked about the strength of triangles, which added a a new dimension to what she was able to build. Stay tuned for day two!

More on the science behind this project can be found through one of my very favorite sites (and places to visit), The Exploratorium: Geodesic Gumdrops.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Those books that you suggested look great—-we would love them. We’ve done the marshmallow idea too and that was fun. You always make something so simple look so amazing! Thanks for all the great articles about kids and creativity. You are such a wonderful resource!

  2. says

    here. here. I agree with Melissa.
    this is a great reward project for Simone, because I know every gum drop will be eaten before the project is done. (she’s been incredibly patient while her brother and I have been terribly sick. so your timing is once again bang on rachelle)

    • rachelle says

      i’m so glad that this will work for you and simone. i also worried that n would eat all the gum drops, and was surprised that she stopped at just one! you never know…

  3. says

    Love it! This is a Discovery Box activity for sure! Open ended, playful curiosity. And well done on eating so few! We would have scoffed the lot! ha ha

    • rachelle says

      this could definitely be a discovery box activity! i was floored that she didn’t submerge herself in the bowl of gum drops. maybe the timing with meals was just right!

  4. susan says

    wonderful! we are very in to experiments and building of all sorts this year. your blog has been such a fabulous resource. thank you so much for all of your wonderful ideas.

    • rachelle says

      Thanks for the super nice comment, Susan! This blog is such a fun project and it warms my heart to hear that it’s got some legs into the world outside my home :)

  5. says

    How fun! It reminds me of molecular model sets we got to play with in chemistry class. In fact, my oldest daughter would enjoy this as a fun science lesson. Her curiosity is seemingly insatiable!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] and waiting for just the right time to introduce her to REAL nails! After working really well at piercing gumdrops with toothpicks, I had a feeling that the time had come. So I dusted off an old scrap of wood, pulled out our jar [...]

  2. [...] following along, you may remember N’s growing interest in pitched roofs from when we made Gumdrop Sculptures and created a cardboard Pitched Roof for a water-flow experiment. The next [...]

  3. [...] Here’s how we landed on this experiment: We stopped at the drug store for baby wipes, and 3.5 year old N bombarded me with five minutes of this… “Mom, stop! You have to see this. Mom, can you get me this light up candy cane/cup shaped like a fairy/snow globe. Wait!!! I really want it!” I normally adore her enthusiasm, but I have a short wick for the begging and pleading for random odds and ends. Pair that with a toddler who insists on standing in the shopping cart and you get the picture of me yearning for a hot cup of coffee and a copy of US Weekly! If you ever wondered if I’m actually raising independent thinkers, the answer is most definitely “yes!” So, on our way to the check-out, we walked down the candy aisle. Dumb move, I know, and N quickly managed to pull a bag of gumdrops off the display with a request to make gumdrop sculptures.  [...]

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