- Marshmallows or chosen snack
Before you begin
- Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
- Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.
Planning this activity
- Remember to check for allergies, eating problems or dietary requirements and adjust the recipe as needed. Make sure you've checked everyone's dietary requirements and allergies then adapted the recipe as appropriate. This may include ensuring no cross-contamination during food storage, preparation and serving, too. Check if there’re any items of food (or packaging) that people can’t touch or be near to or if there’re items that people might not be comfortable using in the activity.
- This activity is a great way of explaining the difference between getting something now or saving it for later. It gives people the chance to choose whether to eat or save a snack, then reflect on why they made their decision.
- This activity is designed to be run another activity.
Play the marshmallow game
At the beginning of the session
- Gather everyone together. Give everyone a marshmallow. You don’t have to use marshmallows – you could use another snack, or a non-food item like stickers.
- Explain that people can either eat their marshmallow now, or wait until the end of the session. If they wait until the end of the session, they’ll get a second marshmallow.
- Everyone should decide whether they want to eat their marshmallow now, or wait until later to get a second marshmallow.
- Remind everyone that there’s no right choice to make – it’s entirely up to them. It’s interesting to think about why people make different choices.
- Ask someone why they made their choice to either wait or eat the marshmallow now. Discuss with everyone how it feels to wait for something you want. Ask everyone how would it feel to get more later and what they’d do with two marshmallows. They might share them with someone else, eat them quickly, or eat them slowly.
- Now, carry on with the rest of the session. It doesn’t matter what activity or game you choose to run. Why not take a look at our activity finder for some ideas?
At the end of the session
- At the end of the session, give a second marshmallow to the people who chose to wait.
- Everyone should repeat steps four and five.
- Ask people how they feel now. Are they happy with their decision, or would they change their mind if they played again?
This activity was written to explore the way we think and feel about saving things compared to spending (or eating, or using) them now.
Take some time to think and chat about when else people have had to choose between having something now or saving it for later. What did they decide to do? How did they feel at the time? Would they do something different now? What helped them make their decision?
Deciding whether to save something can be tricky, and it can make people feel lots of different feelings. There are no right or wrong answers. Thinking about the way it makes you feel can help you be more comfortable and confident making decisions in the future.
This activity also makes use of The movement map to stop and think throughout the activity. For more quick reflections, take a look at our reflective toolkit.
- You could add a third option of waiting until the next session to get three marshmallows. What do people have to think about before they make this decision?
- Saving things feels different to everyone, and this is partly because everyone lives in different circumstances.
- Think about how you can make this activity suitable for everyone – you might want to use a non-food reward, for example.
- You could think about different things that influenced people’s decisions. What if they were really hungry at the start of the game? What if they didn’t know for sure if the person leading the game would remember to give out the marshmallows at the end?
You don’t have to use marshmallows. You may want to avoid them because people have allergies or dietary requirements, or you may want to use a non-food alternative for another reason. You could offer people stickers, badges, or time to play their favourite game.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.
Everyone should be supported to make their own decisions and express their own feelings. There are no right or wrong answers in this activity!