Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Toothpicks, Gumdrops, and Polyhedrons

Amelia McCurdy
Santa Rosa District Schools


Using toothpicks and gumdrops, students make prisms and pyramids to discover the relationship between faces, vertices, and edges.


The student knows the attributes of and draws three-dimensional figures (including rectangular solids and cylinders).

The student knows the properties of two- and three-dimensional figures.


-Models of prisms and pyramids (paper or wooden)
-Paper net of a prism and pyramid (large enough for all students to clearly see)
-Toothpicks (15 per student pair)
-Gumdrops, or marshmallows (10 per student pair)
-Sandwich bags, cups, some container for gumdrops and toothpicks
-Paper towels for clean work mats
-Toothpicks and Gumdrops worksheet


1. Gather models of polyhedrons.
2. Make a large paper net of a prism and pyramid.
3. Copy worksheets (1 per student).
4. Put 15 toothpicks and 10 gumdrops into sandwich bags.


1. Show students the models of prisms. Have students describe common characteristics. List these characteristics on the board or overhead. Explain that all prisms have rectangular sides and 2 congruent, parallel bases. The bases are used to name the prism. Have students name the example prisms.

2. Show students the models of pyramids. Have students describe common characteristics. Again, list these characteristics on the board or overhead. Explain that all pyramids have triangular faces and 1 polygonal base. The base is used to name the pyramid.

3. Have students complete the Venn diagram on the worksheet by recording the characteristics listed on the board or overhead. Check students’ work for any misconceptions.

4. While using the models, show students the edges, vertices and faces of a prism and a pyramid. Draw the net of each. Help students understand how the net ‘folds’ into the polyhedron. Fold the paper net into the polyhedron.

5. Explain that the students will work in pairs and make a model of various polyhedrons and record the number of vertices, faces, and edges. They will also draw the net of each figure. In order to make the model, students will use toothpicks and gumdrops. Build a model as an example. Ask students what part of the polyhedron does the gumdrops represent? The vertices. What does the toothpicks represent? The edges.

6. Circulate around the room and have students name their model. Answer any questions that may come up.


While circulating about the class, observe students and help students correct any errors.
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