Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Marshmallow Challenge

Happy Three Day Weekend!!!
The Marshmallow Challenge is an exercise to promote collaboration and creativity created by Tom Wujec among business people. 

 (This video is for the facilitator, not the participants.)
Businesses aren't the only people we want to learn team building skills! What a great activity for your classroom to promote creativity, collaboration, and cooperation!
Students have to work as a group to build the tallest free standing tower in 18 minutes. Each group receives 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of masking tape, (they call for a yard of string, but I didn't use it), and one large marshmallow. They can tear the tape and break the spaghetti, but the marshmallow has to be on the top of their structure. More directions here.
Before we started our challenge, we discussed ways to work together in our groups. It's important to pose questions and possible solutions to situations that may occur with your students before they get started.
What if you don't like someone's idea?
What if one of your group members is bossing everyone around?
What do you do when someone isn't participating?
What is the plan if two members of your group aren't getting along?
After discussing positive group talk and actions, groups brainstormed ideas of how to build their tower. I overheard a lot of great plans for their design. 
Of the five groups, three had a free standing tower. They quickly realized how difficult this task was because of the weight of the marshmallow.
I made sure groups knew this was for fun and not for a prize, so they wouldn't be stressed. We've been studying the scientific process, so this activity was perfect for "testing" ideas.
 This group had the tallest tower. I happened to catch a shot of one of their members explaining they should have a triangle as the base. (She was right, it was a great support for the foundation.)
After time was up and students were able to look around at other groups' structures, we came back for a discussion. Just as important to discuss possible problems that could occur, is the importance of what worked or went well with their groups. This spreads ideas and positivity throughout my classroom. Some things that were shared:

Our group wanted to have fun and we weren't upset when our tower fell.
We each helped each other.
We listened to every person's ideas.
Everyone worked together, no one was the "boss".
They reflected on their learning and cooperation skills, this will set the tone for future group work in our classroom. I love when they give credit to each other. "It was ___'s idea to try this."  "____ made us feel better when our tower collapsed."

If you have an extra 25-30 minutes in your week, this is a great activity to motivate your students to collaborate, be creative, and work as a team! So, for a of couple dollars you and your students will learn so much about each other and the importance of working as a team!


I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.


  1. I love this idea! This is one of those things that I had heard about, but had forgotten. We might do this for our Friday activity this week. Thanks!

  2. I just found your blog and it has so many good ideas! I love this group activity. We start back next week and this would be perfect for the first day. Thanks!
    I linked up today and am now your newest follower. I'd love it if you checked out my blog too.
    Always Primary

  3. What a fun idea! I love activities that promote working together and getting along!

    A Tall Drink of Water

  4. I am definitely doing this activity next week. Spaghetti and marshmellows are already on my grocery list. Thank you!

    Fit to be Fourth

  5. Wednesday is my first day with the kiddos. This will be a great activity to use the first day/week. I love the looks on all your students faces. They are all so proud!

    Quinnessential Lessons

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