Category | Object Lessons

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Marshmallow Olympics
Use marshmallows as an object lesson and tie it in to a well known Harvard study on delayed gratification and success. Waiting on God is a Biblical concept and something all youth need to learn. Patience in relationships, in sexuality, in simply growing up.

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Make Marshmallow shooters

What You Need

  • 9 oz plastic cups
  • 12 inch balloons
  • LOTS OF marshmallows
  • scissors
  • Duct Tape

Preparation

  1. Place two plastic cups together, one inside of the other, and then use a piece of duct tape around the top opening to secure them together and fold over the edge. Cut off the bottom one third so that both ends are now open. You might want to use the tape to also fold over the bottom end and secure the cups together. (You can also use empty yogurt containers instead of plastic cups)
  2. Tie off one uninflated balloon and cut off a strip from the opposite end.
  3. Stretch the balloon over the bigger end of the cup.
  4. Place a marshmallow inside the cup on the knotted center, pull back on the outer knot, and the marshmallow flies out of the end in the direction you aim it.

Caution – Do this outdoors or in an uncluttered room where it is easy to locate all the marshmallows otherwise they can attract unwanted crawly critters.

What to do

With the marshmallow launcher you can:

  • See who can launch a marshmallow the farthest
  • Try to launch them into the mouth of a teammate across the room
  • Play target practice with a stack of marshmallows
  • Launch a marshmallow up in the air while a teammate runs around and tries to catch it in a bucket
  • launch marshmallows into a trash can or bonfire.
  • Play a game of dodgeball with marshmallow launchers

Other marshmallow games

  • Long-Distance Marshmallow Toss – Youth face a partner and then toss a marshmallow to the partner. With every successful catch they both take a step backwards and try again. If dropped the pair is removed. Continue until one pair survives the toss for the longest distance.
  • MarshmallowShotput – Who can toss a marshmallow the longest distance.
  • Marshmallow Juggle – See which youth can successfully juggle the most marshmallows
  • Marshmallow Lick – Each youth on a team licks a marshmallow, sticks it to their forehead, and run to the finish line and back, to tag the next person until everyone on the team has done it. If the marshmallow falls they must stop, lick it and stick it back on, before continuing.
  • Marshmallow Mind Meld – Put a marshmallow between two people’s foreheads and race to the finish line.
  • Marshmallow Porcupines – Each youth holds a toothpick in their teeth and they must stab a marshmallow with the toothpick and pass it down the row of youth leaving the toothpicks stuck in the marshmallow as it moves to the end of the line. First team to pass the marshmallow to the end wins. No hands allowed. Alternatively the marshmallow with the most toothpicks in it at the end wins.
  • Marshmallow Pyramid – Build the highest pyramid of marshmallows. Make it tougher by having them build it on a teen’s forehead. Who can balance the most marshmallows on nose?
  • Marshmallow Vacuum – Using straws teams of youth must suck up the most marshmallows and place them in cups. No hands allowed.
  • Marshmallow Walk – Youth balance a marshmallow on top of their head, tongue or nose, as they walk to a finish line and back. (If tongue have some replacements available in case they drop)
  • Tallest Marshmallow Tower – Marshmallows must be stacked one on top of the other – straight up without it falling over. Each marshmallow may rest on only one marshmallow below it.

TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

 

More than fifty years ago, researchers at Stanford University conducted a study on¬†preschoolers commonly known as the “Marshmallow test.” They were taken into a room and given a marshmallow and told that if they could wait 15 minutes, they would get a second marshmallow. If they ate the marshmallow, they would not get the second one. They then left the child alone in the room with a marshmallow and a hidden camera and waited. Only about 1/3 were willing to wait. In the following years they checked up on the kids as the became adults and progressed in life. Those that were able to wait, that were able to “delay gratification” were on a whole also able to be much more successful in life.

There are quite a few repeats of the experiment on youtube. Here is one of them:
Marshmallow test on Youtube

There were three types of kids in the study:

  • Those who waited patiently – delayed gratification
  • Those who ate it either immediately or after some time
  • Those who tried to get as close to eating it as possible without really taking an actual bite? (Licked it, nibbled on it, hollowed it out and hoped no one noticed)

In the Harvard studies, kids who waited:

  • had higher SAT scores
  • got more education
  • less likely to be overweight.

MAKE IT SPIRITUAL

Name some examples of people in the Bible who needed to wait on God to fulfil something he promised to them? (Hebrews 11:1-40) – Take note of the last sentence.
(There are many, many Bible characters who had to wait many years for something that God had promised – Abraham, Moses, Joseph in captivity, the Israelites in the desert, etc.)

Spiritual Truths

  • Waiting on God isn’t easy, but it is worth it!
  • God’s answer will come in His perfect timing.
  • God’s answer may not be what you were hoping for.
  • God’s answers and timing are always better.
  • Waiting, patience, and perseverance are one of the keys to life.
  • Remember that when God aks you to wait, something better is coming.

MAKE IT PRACTICAL

  • Have the youth make a list of challenges that today’s teens face that require them to wait. What are the struggles, the difficulties, the tests that force teens to wait?

After youth have listed their challenges on a large sheet of paper, ask:

  • What makes waiting for these these things challenging?
  • What makes it easier to wait?
  • How does experience with God change the way a person waits for things?
  • How could your relationship with God help you handle the times when you need to wait on him?
  • Ask volunteers among the youth to share personal testimonies of how they have benefitted from waiting on God for something?

MAKE IT PERSONAL

  • Have youth write down something they have been waiting for God to answer and continue to trust him for it looking ahead.

SCRIPTURES

  • Hebrews 11:39-40 “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
  • Isaiah 40:30-31 “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
  • Psalm 40:1-2 “I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
  • James 5:11 “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
  • Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

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MORE IDEAS? See “Creative Object Lessons”

200 page e-book that explains everything you need to know when planning your very own object lessons. It contains 90 fully developed object lesson ideas and another 200 object lesson starter ideas based on Biblical idioms and Names / Descriptions of God.

Learn More…

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