Summer Fun: Homemade Marble Run

by Wendy Copley on June 28, 2012

Homemade marble run

Time for another update on our Summer Fun List! Today’s activity was inspired by a post I found on Teach Preschool: a magnetic marble run.

Homemade marble run

This was an activity that Augie and I did on our own and it was easy enough for him to be an active participant in the assembly. The materials are pretty basic:

  • Cardboard tubes — mine were cut up wrapping paper tubes, paper towel tubes and toilet paper tubes that I’d been saving for a few weeks in anticipation of this project)
  • Packing tape — I used decorative tape from the dollar store
  • Scissors
  • Craft magnets (not pictured above)
  • Enthusiastic 3-year-old cutie (optional)

Homemade marble run

To assemble the tubes, we pulled all the excess little bits of paper off the tubes and then wrapped them with the tape. The tape makes them nicer to look at and it also helps make the tubes a little more sturdy.

The author of the original tutorial attached the magnets with a glue gun, but that didn’t work for me at all. The magnets immediately fell off once the glue was dried. (Secretly I kind of hate hot glue. As a crafter, I feel like I’m supposed to love it but it never adheres anything very well and it almost always screws up my projects. Does it ever work? What exactly is it good for?) I tried super glue too and that was also a complete failure. Finally, I hit on the fairly obvious idea to put the magnets on with packing tape. Duh.

Homemade marble run

Once we had all the tubes wrapped and the magnets attached, we stuck them on the fridge and Augie started arranging them to run a marble through. I quickly found that it was a good idea to put a couple of rimmed baking sheets on the floor at the bottom of the fridge to keep the marbles from rolling underneath when they dropped out of the tunnels.

We’ve had the tubes on the refrigerator for a week or two now and they’ve proven to be a pretty versatile toy. Once the thrill of playing with the marbles wore off, the kids started to use them to make letters, shapes and patterns. Fun!

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