Friday, March 9, 2012

powerful fluff

I got up this morning with plans to post a poem in commemoration of International Women's Day and then, because I'm lately very interested in kids' varying ability to control impulse and delay gratification, I got distracted by looking to see what I might be able to do for a certain couple of characters in my class.  The resulting post is somewhat fluffier than planned.

I found my way to several new links about the familiar Marshmallow Experiment, the outcome of which 15-minute task is strongly predictive of a child's later academic and life success.  To summarize, a 4-year-old is offered one marshmallow to eat right now but two if she can wait 15 minutes before eating the first.  Children who can resist and delay gratification tend to have the kind of self-control and patience that will serve them well in life (independent of "hard" intelligence).  For me, today's new information is that kids who can wait are not so much resisting as successfully distracting themselves from the "hot stimulus" of the tasty marshmallow sitting on the plate in front of them.  The video is a delight (even if you don't aspire to raise CEO kids).

Funnily enough, today my kindergarteners will attempt to build 3D shapes out of toothpicks and minimarshmallows.  Only then can they eat the marshmallows. : )

Given all this, you will not be surprised to find three marshmallow poems below.  Enjoy!


Kristine O'Connell George

I am a careful marshmallow toaster,
a patient marshmallow roaster,
turning my stick oh-so-slowly,
taking my time, checking often.
This is art---
a time of serious reflection
as my pillowed confection
slowly reaches golden perfection....

Read the rest here.

Ode to the Burning Marshmallow

Oh my marshmallow,
From the depths of the plastic bag
You came,
White as snow,
Poofy as a cloud.
Edges rounded,
Body smooth.
Oh sugar and air,
How wonderful they melt in my mouth.
My taste buds become joyous
When you pass my lips,
And the dentist becomes concerned.
I love you so well,
Oh my marshmallow.
On my skewer I pierce you,
(A shame to tarnish such a beautiful specimen)
But how good you will taste,
Golden and browned.
But alas, that is not your fate,
Oh my marshmallow.
The embers of the flaming fire
Glare fiercely
Upon your white flesh.
They catch you off guard,
You begin to burn,
Oh my marshmallow.
I snatch you as quickly
As a mother would if her child
Were in danger.
But I was not quick enough.
As a beacon you light up the sky.
My cheeks turn red
As I puff in vain.
As the fire dies down,
I see you as black as the raven's wing.
I shed a tear, oh my marshmallow.
You will never come back,
One less s'more to grace the world,
Alas, Oh my marshmallow.

Marie Freudenberg, age 12

Marshmallow?  What Marshmallow?

a sugary cloud
no, not sweet
an airy cloud
just a pillow for a doll
a snowman's head
a cotton ball in chrysalis
an igloo door

a grasshopper trampoline
vanilla tender bomb
a loaf of bread for lemurs--
slice and spread with fruit

a cloud again
a bouncy white cloud
and I'm a bouncy elf
an airy fairy
in a puffy sky
above a baby beluga
in the deep blue sea

white glob of sand
in an hourglass, stuck
how long? how long
is it not a

Heidi Mordhorst 2012
all rights reserved

Today's roundup is at Gathering Books with Myra, who celebrates her birthday with all of us (an extra pleasure for me, since mine is Sunday.  Informal poll:  how many of us poets are Pisces?  Leave your answer in the comments!).

Also, don't forget to check back often over the next couple of weeks as I participate, along with 63 other lucky contestants, in the March Madness Poetry Tournament hosted by Ed DeCaria at Think Kid, Think!


  1. Pisces! Great post, Heidi. I'm fascinated with this experiment, but my kids are too old not to figure out what outcome the adults prefer.

    Thanks for sharing the marshmallow ode. I'm going to borrow it when I do odes workshops in the schools. AND -- have a swimmingly wonderful birthday on Sunday.

  2. not pisces, but my dad (who was a secret poet) was.

    these are fun, but the marshmallow experiment as, i believe, a fatal flaw in its thinking that is decidedly american. as predictive behavior i think you can make some fairly broad determinations from the outcome, but as a child who didn't particularly like marshmallows i would have been satisfied with having only one even if two were available. one would be my fill.

    so i knew my own preferences and limitations at age four, and was satisfied taking only one up front and moving on, would that indicate a different sort of self control? the idea that with patience we are rewarded with more presumes we want as much as we can get -- a thinking reinforced with super-sized drinks, super-sized stores, and now super-sized kids.

    favorite line from the kids: a grasshopper trampoline. such a wonderful image.

  3. I'm a Pisces, as you know. What an interesting thing to think about -- how can we demonstrate our ability to be patient? I think you can see patience-in-action (or not) from kids in restaurants and on car rides. Yesterday the kids near us were perfectly lovely about waiting for their food. Sometimes parents don't try to cultivate it and they go directly for the TV-on-whenever-kids-are-in-the-car option, but I think they are missing an opportunity.

    Thanks for the yummy poems! I will check out the video.

  4. Sagittarian.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Just for tomorrow, may you get all of your marshmallows with no waiting!!

  5. I think of the Marshmallow research every time I put down a treat for my dog and tell him "Stay."

    While he waits, he never looks at the treat.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!