The STEM Toothpick Challenge That Your Students Will Love!

When working with kindergarten and first grade students, it’s important to keep things fresh and exciting in the classroom. Their attention spans aren’t exactly long and they can get restless easily. STEM activities are a great way to do that! 


When I was in the classroom, I was always looking for STEM activities that would make our lessons interesting and exciting for my students. I love STEM because it makes it so easy to increase student learning and educational outcomes. What kid doesn’t love to get their hands dirty and create?!

STEM challenges provide endless possibilities if you have some basic supplies stocked in your classroom. 

Some great materials to have on hand include: 

  • Bingo daubers
  • Whiteboards and Expo markers
  • Playdough
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Small candy 
  • Finger paint
  • Shaving cream
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pencils 
  • Construction paper
  • Markers 
  • Legos 
  • Cotton balls
  • Tape
  • Straws

Another supply we use is tooth picks! These are a great, inexpensive supply you can use for so many things. 

Our favorite activity is this STEM Toothpick Challenge. 


This is a hands-on activity you can use when you are teaching about 2D and 3D shapes. This resource comes with Build A Shape mats to show students what shapes to make. Just print and laminate them and you can use them year after year. 


Students build their 2D and 3D shapes with toothpicks and playdough. You can use marshmallows or gumdrops instead if preferred. Students will engage in STEM thinking as they count the toothpicks, sides, vertices, and trace the words. 

Included with this resource you get:

  • 8 2D Mats for shape building
  • 6 3D Mats for shape building
  • 2 Recording sheets
  • 2 Answer keys 


This challenge encourages thinking, teaches shape recognition, sides, and vertices, and increases problem solving skills. 


Check it out here! 

If you are looking for more STEM activities, check out my STEM challenge here that ties in with the book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff. 

What are your favorite STEM activities for kindergarten and first grade? Let me know in the comments!


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