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Learn about geometry as you build a pyramid with gumdrops and toothpicks

How to Make a 3-D Pyramid with Gumdrops and Toothpicks

From the beginning of time, geometry has helped shape the world around us. Think about the shapes you may have seen in your everyday life or in history books. Maybe you have noticed the hexagonal structure of a honeycomb or a beautiful five-point star inside an apple. Perhaps you’ve recognized that your bike’s wheels are circles or that your home is shaped like a rectangular prism. Or maybe you’ve been struck by the three enormous, golden yellow structures with pointed tops in Egypt that you may have seen in pictures.

These three impressive pyramids were built over 4,500 years ago in ancient Egypt, and they still exist today for us to explore. They are located near Cairo, in the city of Giza, on the west bank of the Nile River. Together, the group of three pyramids, along with the Great Sphinx of Giza, is known as the Giza Necropolis. The largest of the three pyramids is called the Great Pyramid of Giza. Each of the pyramids has a square base and four triangular sides. This 3-D shape is called a square pyramid.

In this activity, we’ll teach your child how to make a pyramid using a few simple materials. While the ancient Egyptians used over 2.3 million stone blocks to build the Great Pyramid of Giza, all you’ll need are some gumdrops and toothpicks! Follow the steps below for this sweet geometric building activity.

Supplies for One Square Pyramid

  • 5 gumdrops
  • 8 toothpicks
gumdrop pyramid supplies: 5 gumdrops, 8 toothpicks

How to Make a Pyramid with Gumdrops and Toothpicks

Step 1: Start with 4 gumdrops and 4 toothpicks to make the base of your pyramid. Poke the toothpicks into the gumdrops to make a square. Each gumdrop represents a vertex, which is the point where two or more sides of a shape meet. 

build a gumdrop pyramid step 1

Step 2: Using 4 more toothpicks, poke one into the top of each gumdrop. 

build a gumdrop pyramid step 2: 4 toothpicks sticking up from each gumdrop corner

Step 3: Tilt the 4 vertical toothpicks toward the center, and slide one gumdrop onto all 4 to connect them. The top of a pyramid is called the apex.

build a gumdrop pyramid step 3

Step 4: Now, you have a square pyramid just like the Great Pyramid of Giza! 

build a gumdrop pyramid step 4

Explore different types of pyramids and simple 3-D shapes with gumdrops and toothpicks by building a triangular, pentagonal, or hexagonal base. Here are some other shapes to try! 

other 3-D shapes to build: cube, triangular prism, tetrahedron, octahedron, pentagonal pyramid, hexagonal pyramid

Bring on the history!

Why was the Great Pyramid of Giza built?

Pyramids in Egypt were built as tombs, or burial places, for pharaohs and their queens. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a tomb for the pharaoh Khufu. A pharaoh is what ancient Egyptians called their ruler. They worshipped their pharaohs as gods, so the pyramids were also built as a special place to honor them when they died. The pyramids held all sorts of items and treasures the Egyptians believed their pharaoh may need to survive in the afterlife.

How was the Great Pyramid of Giza built?

If you have ever wondered how ancient Egyptians built a pyramid as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza, you are not alone! While historians are not exactly sure how the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex were built, many believe that huge stones were dragged from a quarry and lifted into place to form the square pyramids. When the largest of the pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Giza, was built, it was almost 500 feet tall and 700 feet wide—that’s over twice the length of a football field! Over time, parts of the pyramid have been removed and it no longer stands as tall as it once did, but this colossal building was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.

If your child loves learning about new countries and cultures, check out our World Edition subscription, which features a different country every month, including Egypt! Shop here.