Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Marshmallow Challenge - Day 2 Activity hat goes off to those of you who blogged regularly throughout your first week back to school. I literally was lucky to make it home without falling asleep at the wheel! Teaching procedures to 8th graders is SO much easier than teaching them to 6th graders. In fact, since I am new to the school, many of them were super helpful in telling me how things are done there and so on. The bell schedule is a little different than the one I was on last year, so I have new dismissal times to memorize. I would just ask my kids how much time is left and wouldn't you know...most of them ACTUALLY know how to read a clock!? Amazing.

I was so impressed with how my students behaved all week. These are some of the most polite kids I have ever taught. My classes are widely diverse, but the kids don't even acknowledge it, which is awesome. I am so privileged and blessed to have these kiddos to call my own.

After our first day of getting to know you activities (I actually saw all of my classes for about 30 minutes a piece that 1st day!), I knew we were ready for team building on day 2. I had already gone over my syllabus on the first day which I hadn't ever done before, but I felt like I could since I didn't have to give a school tour, etc. I am the one who needed the school tour! (True kids walked me down to the textbook room so that I could issue them textbooks!)

I know I have COMPLETELY rambled, so let me get right to it! I read about The Marshmallow Challenge earlier this summer and KNEW that I wanted to try it in my class! If you want to read more about The Marshmallow Challenge, click here.

I spent about $10 on supplies for 6 classes which equates to about $0.06 per student. I am so willing to spend that on any lesson that students are going to get something out of. Here is the basic challenge:

Students use the following materials:
20 pieces of spaghetti
1 yard of tape
1 yard of string
and 1 marshmallow
I also include scissors for easy cutting

The challenge is that students must create the tallest freestanding structure out of these materials with the marshmallow on top--in 18 minutes or less. It is super easy to do this, but the marshmallow is the key to keeping it upright. Many students build the structure as tall as they can and then put the marshmallow on top...and then watch it collapse before their eyes. We all think of marshmallows as light, airy, and fluffy, but in this challenge, they might as well weigh as much as a brick!

I did have several groups that were successful, but sometimes I was too excited that I forgot to take a picture! The tallest one was in 7th period and it was 22 inches. I did not let the students tape anything to the desks and that is what was harder as well. Here are some of the successful groups:

This was the first one done in 1st period, and they were so proud. They had started doing some large contraption that of course fell right over after putting the marshmallow on top. This must have been Plan B. Or Plan E. Either way, they were only 1 of 2 groups that were successful in that class!

This was the winner in 1st period at 18.75 inches. They said their inspiration was the Eiffel Tower!

I was so shocked that this one stayed up! This one was the 3rd period winner.

This was the winner in 7th period and overall! 22 inches...super proud of these boys!

I can't wait to see what else I can throw at these kids to do this year. They are all begging me to do this again so that they can fix their mistakes--I promised that we would do it in the spring to see how much they had improved!

The best part was the recap at the end of the challenge where we discussed that most everything in life has a "marshmallow aspect" to it where it kind of throws a wrench in the plans and how we can overcome it in math. Did I mention I love my kids?!?

If you made it this far in my post...thank you! If you are looking for an easy way to incorporate this into your classroom without much setup, you might be interested in this product that can be found in my TPT store:

Looking for more Back to School activities to use in your math class? Check these out!

Be sure to drop me a line and tell me how it went in your class!


  1. What a great activity! I can't wait to see what happens when you do it again!
    Keep Calm and Hoot On

  2. What a great activity! I can't wait to try this out with my 5th graders!

    Fifth Grade Wit and

  3. I just love the joy throughout your post! May we all feel so much joy in our teaching! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I think this would be great for after testing...especially since I've just come across this idea! ;)

  5. I did this with my 2nd graders... it was so much fun and engaging for the kiddos!
    Thanks for the awesome feedback on TPT... best feedback so far :-)

    Seconds at the Beach

  6. I was able to do something like this during a STEM workshop and it was so fun! I was wondering about the posters you have on your cupboard door. Would you be willing to share what they are? Thanks a ton in advance.

    1. Those posters are from MissMathDork on TPT. They are called "How to be a good Mathematician" Posters! And, I love them!

  7. Great ice breaker as well, for adults even...TEAM WORK!!!!!

  8. Not sure if my previous post went through!! I just found this and LOVE this for an activity during the first day of school!! Great way to get the kids working together from the start!

    I do have a couple of questions - do they have to use all of the materials (meaning, are they allowed to just use half of the string or some of the noodles or none of the tape); do you give them scissors to cut the string/tape with?


    1. Hi Jen! No, they do not have to use all of the materials and do give them scissors to use. Most of the kids just tear the tape since it is masking tape but they do use it to cut the string. Good question!

  9. Replies
    1. I think it could work for 4th graders. You may want to make some modifications to the activity, but they could surely surprise you! From what I have read, the younger kids do better than adults!

  10. I tried this in 3rd grade and it was a mess!!! The marshmallows got everywhere... Maybe a different brand might work better... I will never know. LOL

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