My daughter is obsessed with marble runs, and this may be the fourth one we’ve built in one week, including this one we made last week with a cardboard box. I’ve also included some ways to extend this project for a more “colorful” craft. This is a fabulous math and physical science lesson!

Materials:

  • toilet paper rolls
  • masking tape (colored masking tape optional)
  • scissors
  • marbles (balls, jellybeans, or other small rounded objects will work)
  • a basket

Instructions

  1. marbles 1If you like, start by wrapping the rolls with colored masking tape. This took us a good part of the morning! We had fun selecting colors, layering and wrapping tape and cutting the rolls.
  2. Once the rolls are appropriately covered, use scissors to cut each tube the long way, right down the center, so you have two U-shaped half tubes.
  3. marbles 2Find some free wall space and tape the highest tube to a spot that your child can easily reach. Keep taping rolls to the wall, descending toward the floor, until you find an arrangement you’re happy with.
  4. Before you start taping tubes everywhere, test angles and distances to make sure they connect the way you want them to. Try a few different arrangements until it’s a smooth run.
  5. Place a marble at the top of the first tube and watch the magic happen!
  6. marbles 3We needed something to catch the marbles (and jellybeans!) at the end of the run, and a strawberry basket was just right for the job. Any basket or soft landing space will work.
  7. If you like, take down the marble run and reconstruct another one in a different location. It’s fun every time!

Rachelle Doorley is an artist and mother of two. She publishes the popular children's creativity blog, TinkerLab.com. She holds a master’s degree in arts education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and lectures on visual literacy at Stanford and the San Jose Museum of Art.

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