Toothpick STEM Structures

Activity for ages 4 to 8.

Need an easy way to help kids build engineering skills they’ll need for their STEM future? These 24 printable challenge cards are perfect to use in STEM centers, makerspaces, or math stations. Kids will love learning about 2 and 3-dimensional shapes as they build and analyze each design.

Grab your set in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Getting Ready

There are two versions of the cards – one focusing on 2-dimensional shapes and a second set working on 3-dimensional shapes.

Since I was prepping the activity for Big Brother (age 6.5) and Middle Brother (age 5), I printed both sets and made copies of the follow up record sheets.

I cut along the faint grey lines to separate the challenge cards and then laminated them to make the set reusable.

We’re notorious for losing pieces, so I punched a hole in the lefthand corner of each card and bound them together with a ring.

Toothpick structure challenge cards!

Then I grabbed a box of toothpicks, some playdough, and a dry erase marker. We were ready to go!

Building Toothpick STEM Structures

I introduced the activity by giving the boys the red and white striped 2-dimensional cards so they could gain confidence and get a solid grasp of the activity.

They used the toothpicks and playdough to build each shape.

Then they counted the number of sides and vertices and wrote the number of each in the blank boxes.

It took quite awhile to build all fourteen 2D shapes but, when they did, I pointed out the alphabet letters in the upper lefthand corner of each card and showed them how to transfer their answers onto their record sheets.

The next day, the boys were eager to take the challenge one step further! I handed over the cards again and had them flip to the 3-dimensional shapes.

They were thrilled with the challenge of building unusual cubes, pyramids and prisms!

Just like before, they labeled the number of edges and vertices for each shape and then transferred their answers to the record sheet when they were finished.

Grab Your Set

Add some hands-on fun to STEM learning! Grab your toothpick STEM cards in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Purchase Here

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4 Comments

  1. Petra Bunnik

    It would be nice if I could buy them as pdf-file, for shipping it to the Netherlands is a bit expensive I guess…. Is that a possibility? Thnx for letting me know.

    Reply
  2. Petra Bunnik

    Ah, check, I should learn how to read… I think they are printable, right? It’s just not that easy to get my address right in the shop-form…

    Reply
  3. Mark Coster

    Great activity! This even works well with older kids learning the shapes of molecules. A very popular variation is using marshmallows instead of playdough for the vertices – packing up involves ‘disposing’ of the marshmallows! 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Yes! I think “cleaning up” their marshmallows would definitely be their favorite part!
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply

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Hi, I’m Malia.

I LOVE helping Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers save time, stay inspired and give EVERY student bigger results. I’m so glad you’re here!

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