. Ice cream bucket/round container (for making the giant marshmallow shapes)
. Snow shovel (for mounding snow together to make scooping into the bucket easier)
. Water spray bottle (for spraying the walls)
. Large bucket of water, probably best kept in the garage (for refilling the spray bottle)
. Two to four boards, each board 1 inch x 8 inches and each 3 to 4 feet long
(These boards are optional for those who would like to have doorways with a lintel or "roof" over each.
We outfitted only two of our doorways with lintels because we had only two boards.)
. About 25 "manhours" (three boys worked after school on Friday and again on Saturday)
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Step 1: Making Marshmallow Building Blocks
Start making snow "marshmallows." As demonstrated in the pictures shown above, pack snow into ice cream bucket. Be sure to press snow in well, packing down with your fists, then refilling and packing again until you have achieved a dense marshmallow. Dense marshmallows hold together and make better building blocks.
After you have packed the bucket well, wipe the top until level. Invert the bucket and release the marshmallow (you may have to shake the bucket a bit to cause the marshmallow block to release). Voila! You have a marshmallow building block. If the marshmallow block does not release from the bucket, either your snow is too wet or you have packed a bit too tightly.
Step 2: Making Your Pattern and Beginning to Build
The sketch shown in the purple inset (above right) gives a view from the top of the Magnificent Marshmallow Palisade. The outer circle represents the outer walls, and the break in the circle represents the exterior doorway. The two inner circles show where interior walls are, and the breaks in the circle show interior doorways. Having interior walls add strength to the structure, but you could omit the interior walls, if desired.
Trace with your boot or with a stick a large circle in the snow to establish the pattern you will follow for laying out the first level of the palisade's walls, both interior and exterior. After you have laid out the first level, be sure to stagger the blocks (alternating like the layers of brick in a brick wall) on the second level and on each subsequent level. Above is a picture of the staggered marshmallow blocks.
Step 3: Solidifying Your Walls
As you make each individual level, spray each level with a water bottle. This spraying will help solidify and hold things together. (Warning: If you spray the marshmallow blocks while they are still in the ice cream bucket/container, the marshmallow may crumble as it comes out of the bucket/mold.) If possible, wait until you have finished and positioned a complete level/layer of your palisade before you spray it with water. If you have two people helping build, it may be better for one person to spray the walls while the other person creates more blocks.
When you need to refill your water bottle, trek to the garage and refill from your large bucket of water. Depending on how cold it is outside, you might be able to do the refilling outside right at your building site. In any case, be careful not to your clothes wet while refilling your water bottle.
Step 4: Making Doorway Lintels (Optional)
When you have decided how tall you are going to build your fort (how many levels of marshmallows), if you would like to have a lintel (a board across the top of the doorway), put the board on the wall at the desired spot where you want your doorway and spray water around the marshmallow supports. This helps make the supporting marshmallows more solid. After you have let things sit for a while, you can start building on top and around your doorway as desired. Above is a picture of our lintel which is approximately 3 1/2 feet long.
Step 5: Having Fun to the Finish
Build to your heart's desire!! We would have built the Taj Mahal, but we didn't have enough snow. :)
The Magnificent Marshmallow Palisade required at least a ton of snow, but provided even more tons of fun. Next snowstorm, try it yourself! Don't be surprised if all the adults in the neighborhood drop by, smiling with glee at your progress and wishing they had time to pitch in and be a part of the fun!
If you like our Marshmallow Palisade, please vote for us!
Finalist in the