Marble runs feature a number of tilted and connected tubes configured so marbles can slide down them in rapid succession. Some runs are simple and drop the marbles in an uncomplicated zigzag pattern. Others lead the marbles in many different directions before they reach the end of the course. If built correctly, these runs can teach your children about gravity, angles and velocity. You can make simple runs from cardboard or paper tubes, combining creativity and recycling.
Magnetised marble runs work well for children that love playing with refrigerator magnets. These runs can become kitchen toys or stay on a magnet board on your child's wall. Wrap different sized tubes in scrap wrapping paper to make them colourful. Glue magnets to one side of each tube and place them on the magnet board or fridge. Arrange them in different orders and angles to see which ones work the best for carrying the marbles from the top of the run to the bottom.
Recycle old newspapers into an entertaining and educational toy. Cut each vertically folded page in half. Fold each of these pages in half widthways. Roll the pages into quarter-wide cylinders. Secure them with glue and mix a little more glue with some warm water. Paint the paper tubes with the mixture to stiffen them. Once they are dry, you can cut the tubes into different lengths. Arrange the tubes against a large cardboard square. Glue or staple them to the cardboard. You may paint the run if you like or let the newspaper print show.
These runs are free-standing and require no walls or support from the sides. Cardboard tubes work best for this kind of run, but you may roll recycled paper into tubes. Stiffen paper tubes with a mixture of warm water and glue, letting them dry overnight. Use a utility knife to cut circular holes in the bodies of the tubes. Fit the ends of other tubes into these holes at different angles. Glue the tubes into place, making sure one of the bottom ones is horizontal. Glue this horizontal tube to a flat cardboard base.
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