In recognition of National Toothpick Day on February 20th, let’s do some STEAM activities with toothpicks. The toothpick has been around for many years in one form or another. They have been made from precious metals, bird quills, bones and even walrus whiskers!
Only certain woods could be used to make toothpicks that would hold up when wet and not splinter. Early on, Portugal began making wooden toothpicks from orange wood and became the world capital of the toothpick industry.
Eventually, an American named Charles Foster invented a machine that could mass produce millions of toothpicks a day. It took him a while to convince Americans that they didn’t have to whittle their own toothpicks, but eventually people liked the convenience of ready-made toothpicks and the rest is history!
Toothpick STEAM Activities
With an inexpensive box of toothpicks and a few other things like marshmallows, gumdrops, packing peanuts, cheese cubes, grapes, and much more, your children can become builders and inventors too.
Ana at Babble Dabble Do has a fun activity using toothpicks and packing peanuts. Just set out a bowl of “peanuts” and a box of toothpicks and let the fun begin! Not only will your children be building structures, they will also be “building” their brains. This activity has quite a twist too. Kids love to build, but they will probably love to destroy their structures too. Packing peanuts are biodegradable which means if you spray them with water, they will slowly melt away. How much fun is that? Click here to get to this great site.
25 Hands-On Toothpick Activities for Kids
This site has a compilation of toothpick activity ideas for fine motor work, art and lots of STEM challenges. I am sure your children will find some ideas for toothpick fun at this site. I like the one called “Edible Art” which uses toothpicks and grapes. There is another one for older children called “Toothpick Trick”. It is amazing and there is a video to show you how to do the trick. Click here to get to the site.
This site called Frugal Fun 4 Boys tells you how to make a helicopter type twirler with a strip of paper and a toothpick. There are good directions and pictures to help your children make their twirlers. After they make the twirlers, then they drop them from as high up as possible and watch them twirl down.
That will be fun for the kids, but there’s more. The next part is to get the kids to change the variables like the length and width of the wings and observe the differences of spinning direction and time to reach the ground. Such a good way to encourage the 5 points of engineering design: 1) Ask 2) Imagine 3) Plan 4) Create and 5) Improve. To view the site, click here.
If you have any good ideas for toothpick projects, please tell us about them in the Comments section below.