Of all the many marble runs we’ve built over the years, this is our new favorite!  Simple materials and sturdy construction make it a WIN for a wide variety of ages.  This would be great for a classroom STEM challenge.

STEM Challenge:  Marbles, Craft Sticks, and Cardboard Boxes

It all started the other day when we needed a break from homeschooling.  It has been too hot to get outside, and we were all going a little crazy!  Owen and I decided to make a marble maze in a shoe box lid.  I got out a shoe box lid, craft sticks, and a low temp hot glue gun.  I wasn’t sure if the craft sticks would be stable at all when glued on their sides, but it worked surprisingly well.

Build a marble run with craft sticks

Owen (age 5) really enjoyed doing the gluing and building with only a little help from me.  It may seem like a poor idea to give a kindergartner a glue gun, but a low temp gun can be just fine with proper supervision!  Owen would not have been able to do this project by himself with craft glue as the dry time is just too long for craft sticks standing on their sides.

Build a marble run with craft sticks

Owen enjoyed tilting the box lid and rolling his marble through his completed course!

Build a marble run with craft sticks

Owen didn’t want to build his marble track with more than one possible path for the marble, so Aidan decided that he would make a more complicated marble maze.

Build a marble run with craft sticks

He even planned out his design on paper ahead of time!  Craft sticks are pretty easy to cut with scissors to get the size pieces you want.

Build a marble run with craft sticks

Building a marble maze is such a constructive way to spend an afternoon, plus it’s great for hand-eye coordination.  We also discovered that the marbles make a really cool sound when they hit the craft sticks.  The sound inspired us to make another marble project…

For this one, I used the bottom of a shoe box to create a back-and-forth marble run.

Build a marble run with craft sticks

I cut a hole in the top of the box to drop the marble into:

Build a marble run with craft sticks

Kids of all ages will enjoy this one!  It’s so relaxing and the sound is just so cool.

Build a marble run with craft sticks

After seeing this marble run, Aidan suggested building something like the Plink-O game on “The Price is Right.”  Aidan has never watched that show, but he saw something like that last year at the state fair.  My husband thought that was a great idea and suggested making the craft sticks go the other direction.

This is what we came up with:

Build a marble run with craft sticks

For this marble run I used an Amazon box.  Aidan thought it should be more shallow than it was, so we cut it down with a utility knife and covered the edges with duct tape.  I made three holes in the top of this one so that the boys can drop marbles in at different places.  This game is fun because the marbles take a different path each time!

We were planning to make sections at the bottom (with more craft sticks) for the marbles to land in.  Aidan wanted to put different point values in each section.  I just realized that we never got to that step!  Guess we’ll have to add those!

Here’s a video of our final marble run in action:

STEM Challenge:  Marbles, Craft Sticks, and Cardboard Boxes

11 Comments

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  1. JJ Aug 17, 2014

    We really need to do this, like yesterday! :o) My 2 year old LOVES marbles and my 8 year old loves projects. Win win!

    Sidenote: I never would've let my first play with marbles, but the second kid gets to play with things earlier since the big guy has them. I DO watch him though! :o)

    JJ
    www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

    Reply
    1. Julie R. Aug 18, 2014

      Thanks for these great ideas! My kids love marble runs, but we've never made any, so these are a great place to start!

      Reply
      1. Beth Aug 19, 2014

        This is such a clever idea! My kids would LOVE this =)

        Reply
        1. Demetris Jones Sep 6, 2014

          Thanks so much for this clever idea!

          Reply
          1. Renu Dec 9, 2014

            Great idea, I spend time reading and trying out all the interesting things that people like you take time and effort to post.
            It is really helpful.
            Thanks for sharing.
            Renu

            Reply
            1. Brandy @ Our Thrifty Home Mar 24, 2015

              This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your idea. I am definitely re-pinning this.
              Thanks again!

              Reply
              1. Tonya Jul 12, 2015

                Awesome! I always find something great for my boy to try when I come to your site - thank you!

                Reply
                1. Nancy Pittman Mar 19, 2016

                  Love your ideas. Tried using clay to hold the craft sticks to the cardboard. Worked pretty well too. Kept the craft sticks in place and allowed the kids to do the project without using a glue gun. That way they were able to do the entire project themselves. They loved it. Thank you for the inspiration and ideas. Awesome!

                  Reply
                  1. Missy Oct 14, 2016

                    So fun!! Definitely doing this! Love the plinko for a review game also. Answer a question, get a chance to earn points in plinko. Thank you for the fun ideas!

                    Reply
                    1. Michelle Konarski Feb 4, 2018

                      I will be doing this with my grand daughters

                      Reply
                      1. Jessica Feb 26, 2018

                        Doing this today! Awesome!

                        Reply

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