Tis the Season: Candy Canes in Crafts and Science
Hello! I’m new around here
My name is Jessica, and I spend my days as a stay-at-home-mom of two wonderful little girls who are six and almost two. I also get to have fun hanging out with my nephew for the day while his mom and dad go to work. He’s two and a half and a huge light in my life. I’m exceptionally lucky to be married to my high school best friend and to have an amazing circle of women who help me get through this journey called life. I’m looking forward to writing for Rocky Parenting and getting to know you all a little better!
My oldest daughter is the kid that’s constantly asking “How is that made?” I’ve seen countless Youtube videos about the process of making shoes, books, tires and even hotdogs (blech!). With Christmas coming up, I felt like a visit to a candy factory would be right up her ally, so I began researching where in Colorado we could go to see the candy making process firsthand. Hammond’s Candy Factory popped up and looked to be a pretty fun time.
Not one to miss the opportunity to increase the educational value of an experience, I began preparing for our Hammond’s field trip by filling our days leading up to our tour with candy-themed activities, art, and science. We watched the video posted on the Hammond’s page, and decided that since we are in the holiday season, we would focus on candy canes.
Next we made the following lists:
- What I know about candy canes
- How I think candy canes are made
- What I want to learn about candy canes
Day 1 Pre-Factory Prep Activity:
Since the kids said they knew that candy canes usually smelled like peppermint, we decided to do an art activity with candy cane – scented puffy paint. This activity is easy and fun for multiple ages, and uses things you can find easily at any store.
Here’s what we used:
- Shaving Cream
- 1-2 drops of Peppermint Oil*
- Thick Paper
- Paint Brushes*
- Red Food Coloring *
Here’s what we did:
First, my 6 year old and I cut out candy cane shapes from red cardstock.
Then we mixed equal parts glue and shaving cream in a mixing bowl and added a small amount of peppermint oil. When you try this at home, the mixture should be thick and puffy.
Once the mixture was just right, we used our fingers and paint brushes to decorate our candy canes with the puffy paint.
The kids stayed occupied with this for about 15 minutes. After they completed their designs, it took approximately 2 hours for the candy canes to dry completely.
I find it challenging at times to find projects that work well for my diverse age group – 6, 2.5, and 1.5. This was an excellent choice for them, and they all had a great time. My oldest stuck to using her brush and didn’t much care for the stickiness on her hands. The younger two used brushes to begin with and eventually decided they preferred to bathe in it. The finished product smells like peppermint and has plenty of dimension. We also used the left overs to make snowmen and wintery scenes.
Day 2 Pre-Factory Prep Activity:
While my big girl is at school, my younger daughter and my nephew were learning about colors. Next up for us were finger print candy canes. This is a super easy and very quick art project. We talked about how candy canes can come in multiple color combinations, but that the classic combination is red and white. They decided to stick with the traditional red and white color scheme for this activity, but if you try this at home you can experiment with any combination or, for older kids, pattern of colors.
What we used:
- Red and White Ink Pads or Finger Paint
- Green Paper
Here’s how we did it:
We lightly traced a J on our paper as a template.
I helped the little ones press their fingers onto the paper leaving a white space between each finger print. We repeated this step until the line was completely covered.
That’s it! This is a simple and fun craft that would make a nice present for the grandparents.
Day 3 Pre-Factory:
I figured it was time to put a little science into the mix, so our next activity was a dissolving candy cane science experiment. Again, we used supplies we had at home, easily available.
What we used:
- 3 + Small Cups (Depends on how creative your kiddo gets)
- Scotch Tape
- Warm Water
- Mini Candy Canes
- Other liquids or add-ins from around the house – vegetable oil, vinegar, juice, cold water, milk, salt, etc.*
Here’s how we did it:
We chose to do warm water, cold water, salt water, and oil. I labeled our 4 cups with scotch tape.
Next we made some hypotheses about what would happen when we added the liquids to the cups.
Here were my nephew’s predictions:
Warm Water: The candy cane will get warm
Oil: The candy cane will change color
Salt Water: The candy cane will grow bigger
Cold Water: It will get smaller
We then added a single mini candy cane to each cup and began writing down our observations in our notebooks.
Within minutes the stripes began to noticeably come off of the candy canes that were submerged in warm water and salt water. The water in all of the cups began to turn pink but the oil remained the same color. At this point the littles were smelling all of the cups and giggling uncontrollably about elf poop. It was time to get them re-engaged so I began asking them questions to further experimentation and investigation.
“What do you think would happen if we stirred the water?”
(We got a new cup of warm water and stirred the candy cane until they got bored. It dissolved substantially faster than the unstirred candy canes.)
“Do you think the stripes are added after the candy cane is made?”
(Watch the following youtube video to find out.)
“Do you think the same thing would happen to a big candy cane?”
(They said yes but had no interest in testing it.)
After answering my questions and watching this short Youtube clip, they were ready to go observe their candy canes again.
The candy canes submerged in warm water and cold water were completely dissolved, the candy cane in salt water was about a quarter of its original size, and the candy cane in oil looked identical to when we first placed it in the cup.
We then talked about whether or not our hypotheses were right and wrote our conclusion down in our notebook.
We still have a few more days until our tour, so we’ll be doing a few more projects until the day arrives. It’s been fun preparing to go, and I hope that the experience will be one for all of us to remember. Stay tuned to find out how the actual tour works out for us!