If you’re looking for winter STEM activities, this marshmallow snowflakes activity might be my new favorite! Of course, that’s hard to say because I love science and engineering, and I do have a lot of favorites…
What are STEM activities?
It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about what STEM stands for. The letters represent science, technology, engineering, and math. The best STEM activities combine more than one of these disciplines. STEM education is important because jobs in the STEM fields are becoming increasingly important and in-demand in our society. We need kids to grow up to work in engineering, computer programming, information technology, medical fields, and more.
I love this marshmallow snowflake STEM activity for several reasons:
- This activity works well for a wide range of ages.
- There are academic benefits for everyone.
- The supplies are very inexpensive.
- The results are beautiful!
- Large marshmallows
- Mini marshmallows
And that’s it!
You may want to start this activity by looking at pictures of real snowflakes. We discussed the fact that most snowflakes have 6 points. I’ll include some science links at the bottom of the post.
I put the marshmallows in bowls so that we didn’t blow through ALL of them at once! Also, we mostly stuck to one large marshmallow per snowflake. This worked really well. If I were doing this with a class, I would definitely follow that rule. Otherwise, the kids will use up the large marshmallows quickly!
We did this project right on our dining table. Yes, it got a little sticky, but it wiped up easily.
The kids quickly discovered that they could break the toothpicks in half for more design possibilities.
This project works well for a wide range of ages. My 7, 9, and 12 year olds all enjoyed it! And I even talked my 15 year old into making a snowflake too.
I would recommend this marshmallow snowflake activity for age 5 through 12 or so. Young kids will make very simple snowflakes, but it’s so good for their fine motor skills. Middle schoolers will be able to design intricate snowflakes and discuss shapes and angles.
Here are some of the snowflakes we created!
Do the snowflakes keep?
Initially, the snowflakes may come apart with too much handling. However, they hold together better after a day of drying out. We made ours on a day that was very dry (heat running in the house). By day 2, the marshmallows had hardened some and the snowflakes held together very well, even with the kids picking them up and handling them.
Since they are food, though, they are not a forever craft! We’ll toss ours in the trash after we have enjoyed them for a few days.
What learning is happening in this marshmallow snowflake STEM activity?
Experimenting with different building materials, such as marshmallows and toothpicks, strengthens fine motor skills for young kids. They’ll quickly realize that they need to poke the toothpick through the center of the marshmallow, or it won’t hold up!
This activity allows kids to explore what sorts of shapes make stronger structures. For example, adding a hexagon of toothpicks around the center of the snowflake makes it significantly stronger!
Math is involved in planning the spacing of the toothpicks so that they make 6 equal points. How many degrees should there be between each toothpick?
On a simpler level, if there are 6 points and you want 2 mini marshmallows on each point, how many will you need?
What happens to the shape of the snowflake if you break the toothpicks into shorter pieces, but they are not all the same length?
If you want to study the design of real snowflakes, check out the Snowflake Bentley website. There are amazing photos of real snowflakes!
Here is information on How Snowflakes Form.
Need more snowflake activities?
Try making some Geoboard Snowflakes! White loom bands are perfect for this.
Or, sort out the white LEGO bricks and design some LEGO Snowflakes.
Have fun with snowflakes!