Building Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks

Preschoolers will enjoy building shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks for hands-on math practice. Perfect STEM activity for little ones.

My daughter Grace is totally obsessed with shapes!  She points them out everywhere we go and when I ask her what she wants to learn about I’m sure you can guess what her answer is…………..SHAPES!

marshmallow-1 Building Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks

We were in Publix the other day, and I told her she could pick out a treat for being so well behaved at the store.  She told me she wanted marshmallows, the little ones.

Ok……….I’m not one of those Moms that refuses to let her kids have sugar sometimes but I am that Mom who feels the need to combined a once in a while sugary treat and an educational activity.

That way we all win.  She gets her treat and I feel better about giving it to her.

Building Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks

On the way home from the store I thought about what I could do with the marshmallows.  It took me a few minutes, but then it came to me!  Grace could build 2D shapes out of marshmallows and toothpicks!

We just bought marshmallows, and I had toothpicks in my pantry.  I was convinced this was going to be Grace’s favorite activity yet and guess what, it was!

This preschool STEM activity took about 5 minutes to set up, and Grace stayed busy for a good 30 minutes.  Ok, I know you’re excited about this activity so let’s get started!

Image-1 Building Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks

What You’ll Need

  • Printable Shapes (Click the link to download the shape template.)
  • Marshmallows
  • Toothpicks


The first thing I did was go over all the shapes (linked above) with Grace.  I had her tell me the name for each shape.  Then we talked a little about what makes each shape different.

After that I told her she was going to make each shape out of toothpicks and marshmallows.

Tip: Before we got started I let her eat 5 little marshmallows.  This way during the activity she wasn’t worried about when she was going to get to eat a marshmallow.  I also told her when she was finished she could eat 5 more.

I didn’t show her how to make the shapes with the toothpicks and marshmallows.  I wanted her to try and figure it out on her own.  I just guided her along as she figured it out.

Once she did the first one, there was no turning back.  She loves it and continued to make all the shapes on her own.  It was amazing!

Image-2 Building Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks

How did my daughter do with this activity?

This was most definitely one of her favorite activities of all time!  She was focused and so excited.  I was also impressed that she figured out how to build the shapes with the toothpicks and marshmallows on her own.

The toothpicks I had in my pantry were the colored toothpicks.  As Grace was doing this activity I also noticed she was color sorting the colored toothpicks as well.

She would use only one color to build a shape.  This was also very cool to see!  I love when an activity comes together and is way better than I thought it was going to be!

Image-3 Building Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks

What is she learning during this activity

  • Shape recognition
  • Matching the shape to the one she was building
  • 2D shape attributes
  • Fine motor skills
  • Following directions

Extending this activity is so easy

  • There are so many things that can be done to extend this fun and easy activity.
  • You could have your child build 3D shapes
  • You could ask your child to build a structure and see if they can figure out how.
Marshmallow-Shapes-PIN Building Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks

This Building 2D Shapes Activity is amazing!  Grace had the best time and I really enjoyed watching her during this activity!

We will definitely be doing this activity again!  I hope you and your child enjoy it as much as we do!


Fill your book basket with a great collection of books about shapes. Most of these books can be found at your local library or used bookstore.

If you have a hard time finding them, you can order them through my Amazon affiliate links by clicking the images below.

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Walter’s Wonderful Web – A determined little spider named Walter is trying to make a sturdy web that will stand up to the blustery wind. The webs he makes at first are woven in special shapes–a triangle, a square, a circle–but they are still wibbly-wobbly. Can Walter make a web that is both wonderful and strong?

Tangled – When the neighborhood shapes go climbing on the park jungle gym the last thing they expect is a tangle. First the circle, next the triangle and then the square. One by one soon all sixteen shapes are trapped. 

Snippets: A Story About Paper Shapes – Snippets is a story that revels the power of kindness and the beauty of being unique. And it does so though the journey of two different groups of shapes (the polygons and irregular polygons)

Teaching Resources

This shape chart set makes it fun and easy to build shape awareness with a fun Mickey Mouse theme. The Disney Shape Chart includes 8 different shapes, 8 sets of hands and shoes, and a corresponding “SHAPES” title all with a Mickey theme. 

Use these fun smiling felt shapes to help your child or class learn the different shapes they will use throughout their lives. Bright, colorful and fun shapes make learning fun.

Send your little ones on a hunt for shapes with this Free Printable Shapes Scavenger Hunt!

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  1. I let my girls do this…but instead of toothpicks, we used pretzel sticks. They had fun…and ate all the shapes they made when they were finished. 🙂