Every holiday my children get an overwhelming amount of candy and my first instinct is to hide it! I even choose to slowly get rid of it when it’s out of their sight. I know most parents understand the struggle to help kids reign in their hankering for sugar. The amount of candy seems to grow year after year.
Thinking back to my childhood, I don’t remember many Easter basket shenanigans; however, I do remember coming home on Halloween night and meticulously sorting my candy. I didn’t want to eat it all at once. I wanted to revel in my instant riches laid out in front of me. I always believed it was more candy than I had ever seen (at least until next Halloween).
This past Easter, my family tried something new with our candy. My husband and I want to curb our kids’ sugar intake. However, I wanted to attempt an experiment by giving our kids full access to their entire candy stash! It may appear counterproductive to give my kids ALL of their candy at once. Yet, that’s exactly what we did. And guess what? They didn’t eat it! Reflecting on my childhood Halloween days, I decided to lay the candy out in front of my kids and announced an afternoon of candy investigation.
It is important to set expectations and announce rewards for following through. By displaying their candy before their eyes, I knew I would have their complete attention. Before I allowed them to handle the candy, I made sure they knew what we were going to do. They knew I was going to give them ALL of their candy but they were told not to eat it. I told them if they listened and followed the expectations, they could pick a candy at the end.
Ways to Repurpose Leftover Holiday Candy
- Count and sort: Integrate math by having your child count, sort, or graph. Allow your child to sort the different types of candy. They can put it into piles or lines alongside each other to graph them. Invite them to count each category. Kids get excited about counting things they love. Ask questions such as, “Which one did you have the most of?” or “Which one did you have the least of?”
- Egg Hunts: Allow your child to fill some of their candy back into Easter eggs and hide them for you, siblings, or friends. It’s amazing how they are willing to share when it comes to a fun mystery game. Play games while looking, like “Hot and Cold,” or singing a song louder or softer while looking for the eggs.
- Science Experiment: *Do with an adult. Use an oven safe container and melt a candy assortment. Make sure to grease the surface first or use wax paper. Ask initial questions, such as, “What do you think will happen?” or “Do you think it will taste the same?” Lead them to wonder and express scientific observations. Heat at a mild temperature so you can remove the candy when it first melts. Let it cool slightly but not harden, then use a spoon or fork to remove it for your child. Do not allow your child to try and remove it from the container. When it’s still warm and pliable, allow your child to taste it, and if possible shape it into something new. This is a fun sensory experience and also “melts” away a lot of the candy while expanding their scientific minds.