Cardboard Tube Marble Run

Sep 23, 2012


Today we made our own, simple Marble Run from cardboard tubes. 

It was great that such a simple and fun activity could include so many different learning areas like learning about gravity, angles, construction, problem solving, fine motor skills, eye tracking, speed and more.



Ages: 2-6+
(Maddie is 3.5y/o here. See the bottom of the post for ideas to simplify or extend for younger or older children)

Materials: Recycled cardboard tubes, recycled cardboard, marbles/small balls, blu/uhu tac & stickytape



If you don't have cardboard tubes you can make your own from cut up cereal boxes. 
Good fine motor skills and coordination required for little kids to do this. Give assistance where needed.



Use blu/uhu tac to affix your cardboard tubes to the door/window



The great thing about building your own Marble Run is that there is a lot of trial-and-error, therefore problem solving is required. We tried many different combinations. The testing was just as much fun as making it.



Gross motor skills involved in reaching and stretching up high.
She discovered that you did have to push the tube quite hard to ensure it stuck in place and stayed there



Putting the marbles in the top then quickly getting down the bottom to watch it fly out never got old.
I'll admit, even I couldn't draw myself away from watching it haha



This is how our finished run looked after lots of attempts and this one worked every time
This was made with very little assistance from me



Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity for younger children by setting up a small run for your child. Encourage them to get involved with deciding how to place the tubes and if their suggestions will not actually allow for the marble run to work, go with it, let them try it their way and let them learn through experience that it won't work, then ask them if they can think of any better ways or show them how it will work.

- Extend this activity by having your child experiment with different angles to achieve different speeds. Time the marble's journey through your run and work on extending or decreasing the time.

- Mix it up by using a variety of different recycled materials to add interesting parts to your marble run. Try things like cut up plastic bottles, foil, plastic containers etc.

- Supervise young children with marbles. They can be a choking hazard. You may want to use small (larger than swallowing size) balls instead of marbles with younger children but always still supervise. (Plus... if you're there, you get to be an important part of their experience)

- Talk to your child about what they are making and experiencing in order to develop their cognitive skills (thinking) and language development. Not to forget the important bonding that takes place between you both.

- Ask Questions such as, "Why do you think the marble keeps shooting out of there?" "How can we make the marble go through this part?" "Why doesn't the marble keep moving here?" "How can you slow the marble down?" etc




Happy playing,
Debs :)



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27 comments:

  1. Fantastic idea! My kids would love that. xx

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  2. We did this a while back too and the boys LOVED it! Looks like you had a great time too!

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  3. I have done this activity at school and you are right it never gets old! It is interesting to see the scientific concepts unfold eg the more you tilt a tube the faster the marble will roll (often causing it to overshoot the target). Great fun! Thanks

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  4. I love how you have used long tubes, and you are so right that this is a trial and error experiment, we tried this once and there was lots of error - but all good fun :)

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  5. My kids would love this! We used just about every paper towel roll in the house for various boats/planes and crafts in the past week. I'll either need to wait out our paper towel use (won't be long) or discretely dismantle the boats(under the veil of night and after waiting the appropriate admiration time) to get the "parts" back. Great idea. Thanks!

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  6. I've been looking for something new to try with my little guy! Hoping to do this tomorrow! Thanks for sharing your idea. :)

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  7. oooh so simple yet so clever! I'm going to start saving tubes now for when we are in the new part of the house with our HUGE sliding glass doors!

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  8. What a brilliant - have loads of tubes from wrapping presents at the moment too.

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  9. I love this. I have so many toilet rolls, I don't know what to do with them all. I usually take them to work and we use them for enrichment for the animals but even our bin is almost full! Yay, I'm so going to do this on the weekend, I just need to get some marbles!

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  10. Such a simple idea! Love it! Must start saving those cardboard tubes!

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  11. What a fabulous idea?! So simple, so much fun and so effective.

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  12. Love it! We've done one on the fridge , we will have to do one on the glass doors he'll love it.

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  13. Great fun!! Looks like you really had a blast.

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  14. That looks like so much fun. I love the expression on your little girl's face in the one photo.

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  15. What a FANTASIC idea! My kids will love this!

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  16. I love all the marble runs I've been seeing lately- this one is fantastic because you don't have to find a place to keep it after the little ones have played! We must try it!

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  17. I keep meaning to make one of these marble runs and now i am inspired all over again...thanks Debs!

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  18. My kids would absolutely love this.

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  19. I love this idea!! I am going to be saving all of my tubes to do this with my kids! I would love it if you would share this with us on Eco Kids: http://organicaspirations.blogspot.com/2012/11/kids-learn-and-play-and-eco-kids-tuesday.html

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    1. Thanks for linking up! This is just too great for me not to feature!

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  20. What a fun idea! Thanks for sharing at Eco-Kids Tuesday!

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  21. After seeing your post I did this with middle school boys They are prety anti-art so often a tough group to teach. We used the cafeteria wall and masking tape and as it turned out, it was one of the most successful activities we've done to date. It was a great team building activity and a lot of fun!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to let me know. Makes your day to hear things like that. So glad you and the boys had a successful lesson :D

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  22. Fun idea - my boys will love it! I just added it to my Wrapping Paper Tube Up-Cycled Post.

    http://www.brainstorminbloom.blogspot.com/2013/02/tubes-wrapping-paper-paper-towels-tp.html

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  23. Hi! I loved this game so much! I featured you on my blog post "Recycle cardboards and make games for kids!" .You can see it here http://maros-kindergarten.blogspot.gr/2013/02/blog-post.html
    I would love your feedback! Have a nice day!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love reading them all.