Controversial Career Day: Marshmallows used as pills to teach preschoolers what pharmacists do

MASSILLON, Ohio - Marshmallows can be a sweet treat for kids, but using mini marshmallows as pills to teach 3- and 4-year-olds about careers in medicine causes controversy.

Mini marshmallows were given to preschool students at Massillon's Franklin Elementary School in Ohio during a recent career day at Washington High School.

The marshmallows represented prescription pills, and the kids placed them in pill bottles.

Massillon Schools Superintendent Rik Goodright said it taught kids what a pharmacist does by counting the marshmallows and placing them in pill bottles.

Goodright said it also taught kids about math.

Goodright said he wouldn't call the idea a "mistake" but would look into changing how career day is presented next year.

Brittley Burrows' children go to Franklin Elementary, but are not in preschool.

Burrows said the career day lesson confuses the message parents teach kids.

"That's not cool. That's not a good idea. As parents we teach our kids not to touch pills or anything that looks like a pill," Burrows said.

While some social media sites were busy with people commenting and criticizing a school system that uses marshmallows as prescription pills, Goodright said his office and the school received no complaints from parents.

Goodright said the preschool program at Franklin is outstanding and in such demand there's a waiting list.

"Using marshmallows is a bad idea. It's a poor precedent. Problems happen because many candies already look like prescription painkillers. It sends a confusing message to children," said Dr. Earl Siegel with the Drug & Poison Information Center headquartered at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Reports say 50 percent of accidental poisoning calls involve children under the age of five.

Nation Poison Prevention Week begins this weekend.

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