Marshmallow Building

Toddler playing with orange playdough at Bright Horizons day care

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.
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Toddler playing with orange playdough at Bright Horizons day care