This is a fun activity to add to your "tree" week. You can do this any time of the year. We are learning about trees during the month of December, and talking about evergreen trees.
AGE RANGE: as soon as you start allowing them to help cook. I would say most 15-18 month olds and older can do this.
- Saucepan. You could use as small as a 3 quart, but I like to use a 6 quart so you can stir without spilling. Helpful for me and the children :)
- Rice Krispies: 5 cups. I always buy the inexpensive rice krispies in the bags (like Malt-O-Meal).
- Marshmallows: 4 cups miniature (which equals about half a bag) or 40 regular.
- Butter: 1/4 cup.
- Green food coloring.
- Candies to decorate tree (like red candies or string liquorice)--optional.
- Regular size marshmallows for base of tree--optional.
- Cookie sheet.
- Get cookie sheet out and grease or spray with non-cooking spray.
- Melt butter in saucepan.
- Add marshmallows. As you are measuring, be sure to incorporate math skills. For the younger toddler, it might just be saying "We need to fill this up 5 times. Can you help me count?" As your child gets older, you can increase the difficulty of this. Brayden (4.5) is quite good at math and can do simple addition in his head. He has also started learning about fractions (thanks to my husband the engineer). When we made these, I used a Pyrex measuring cup that measures up to 2 cups. I told him we needed 4 cups of marshmallows. I then told him our measuring cup held two cups and showed him where the two cup mark was. I also showed him where the 1 cup mark was. I asked him how many times we needed to fill it up, and to what, to reach five cups.
- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and all marshmallows have melted.
- Add food coloring, continuing to stir constantly.
- Remove from heat.
- Measure out Rice Krispies. Do the same for measuring this as you did with the marshmallows. Use this as a teaching opportunity.
- Add Rice Krispies. Stir until well coated.
- Butter hands. I just sprayed cooking spray on our hands.
- Put a spoonful of the mixture on the cookie sheet and have your child form into the shape of a Christmas tree. You might want to show him how first. Also, it might be hot, so check to make sure it is cool enough before letting your child touch it. This is a good opportunity to talk about three dimensional shapes.
- Continue until mixture is gone. Re-butter hands as needed.
- Decorate trees if desired.
- Once formed, you can add the tree base by sticking a toothipick in a large marshmallow and then into the base of the tree.
- Eat and enjoy!
Please note that these are not gooey rice krispie treats. These have less butter and less marshmallows to help the tree stay up, but it has less fat, right? Right? :)