Book review: Candy Construction

When I received Candy Construction from Thomas Allen and Son, I knew exactly how I was going to test out a couple of the “recipes” – with my Grade 3s and Grade 5s on “Hallowe’en Party” day.  I mean, since everyone was having parties and eating candy and dressing up in costumes, who was I to resist?

The book is written on the premise that kids love candy and suggests that a way to let them enjoy candy without actually eating it is to let them make something with it.  The author believes that if you let kids construct cool things with candy they won’t want to eat it and offers rules for little builders to follow like “no snacking on the job”, “one item may be chosen to eat only after cleanup is done” and “candy construction workers must brush their teeth after work”. Well my little construction workers followed most of those rules and were proud of their creations but they still wanted to eat them 😉

I was excited to find two (vaguely) curriculum-related activities for both grades: millipedes and centipedes for Grade 5 who are currently working on a unit involving frogs (who eat insects, right?) and butterflies for Grade 3 who have just sent Monarch butterflies off to Mexico as part of the Journey North program.

I started the day with Grade 5 and their “insectes“.  I chose liquorice “laces” and Lifesavers in various colours and the boys selected their own combination.

The book is great at showing the finished product (and making it sound easy in the “method”) but I really would have liked some step-by-step pictures of at least a couple of steps along the way… I am only a little bit crafty (when I ran summer camps, I would always delegate the craft activities to the other staff!) so some more direction would have been welcome. Had I been making them, they would not have turned out half as well!

The boys had a bit of trouble tying the liquorice laces (they kept breaking). Have to say I didn’t even think that this would be an issue but the boys soldiered on and persevered anyway (you know, eating the broken bits along the way…).  The final products were not as professional looking as the photos in the book but we were pretty pleased nonetheless.

The Grade 3s were excited to make “stained glass butterflies” using pretzels and crushed up Lifesavers as the basis for the wings.  They had a lot of fun bashing the Lifesavers into dust…

We carefully counted out the pretzels and filled the holes with the candy dust and popped them in the oven for a few minutes so the candy would melt…

Meanwhile, we got to work on the bodies using gummy worms and Necco wafers glued together with green icing…

The finished product?

The boys were pretty happy with their handiwork and so was I.  This was a great craft for a party or a treat and we thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of our labours!

This book is full of inspiring pictures and interesting ideas of things about construct with candy and I have no doubt I will be using it again in the course of my teaching career.  I will, however, do proper test runs with  projects before I undertake them with 20 sugared up boys (!).  Some of the projects are probably not as easy as they appear unless you are craftily gifted!  It’s a great book for older kids (12ish year olds) to work with on their own but younger ones might need some help and supervision.

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41 thoughts on “Book review: Candy Construction”

  1. what cute candy critters! i’d love to see some of the other pictures from the book (and i totally agree that it should have step-by-step photos!). i like the whole “enjoy candy without actually eating it” while making something plan, but i have to admit that my sugared-up monkeys will eat their body weight in candy every Christmas when we make a gingerbread house. and truth be told, that’s part of the delicious, sneaky-feeling fun of it all for them. 😉

  2. I love it! This is a great cookbook and I’ll bet the kids had a blast. But I do get that no matter what the book said they’d want to eat the candy project anyway. I mean, I would have! Great projects, Mardi!

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  4. This is a book for me!! Sure, it would drive me a bit crazy trying to either source the candies or come up with suitable replacements, but that is totally my kind of challenge.

    Might have to come up with another alliteration though. Lolly Love? Hmmm, pretty lame,,

  5. Okay the whole “they won’t want to eat them” sounds like American psychologist psychobabble. I mean seriosuly – do we have to overthink *everything*?

    Having said that, without that bit of manipulation, it looks like great fun.

    But only because you can eat the finished product! 🙂

  6. I love how you tied this fun project into your curriculum. I think that food is a great tool for teaching – it gets the kids excited, for one, but lets them be creative in a way that classroom learning often does not. It’s nice that this book encourages moderation with eating candy, too – not something I would have expected!

  7. Oh this looks like so much fun. And a great classroom tool (not that I teach anymore, but still)
    I like that it says candy is ok, but maybe you should use restraint and explore other things to do with it. I use that in grownup land when I “build” with cookies or dough and it’s too cute to eat. Don’t think it would’ve stopped me when I was younger though.
    Great stuff! Thx for sharing!

  8. Hi Mardi,
    Oh, this will be such a big hit with my 3-year-old. We’re constantly looking for “food projects” to keep her busy during the day! This is such a great idea, I think! Thanks for sharing! That book looks like something I would buy.


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