Everyone has been in a toilet paper buying frenzy! Put the leftover cardboard tubes to use for a fun, challenging project the whole family can work on together: create a marble run!

Required materials: 

  • Paper towel and/or toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Marbles (golf balls or ping pong balls can be used if you have younger children)

The first step is to cut all of the cardboard tubes in half. Depending on the age of your child you can either complete the first step on your own, or task your child to help. Find an empty wall, sliding glass door, or even the back of a shelf to use to construct your marble run. 

Use the masking tape to attach the tubes to the wall in a continuous track. Pay attention to how much help your child needs to ensure this is a challenging, but not impossible project for them. Offer support where needed, and words of encouragement when necessary.

Possible Extensions:

  • Create two identical tracks side by side and “race” your marbles.
  • Try using different things like pom poms or toy cars. Is one faster than another? Why?
  • Use a stopwatch to time how long it takes different items to get through the tubes.
  • Create different entry points that feed into one tube
  • Before building the marble run on the wall invite your child to draw a plan for it
  • If your kids are designing the track themselves you will need to offer support in why their track might or might not work. By talking with them along the way you can model problem solving

What We’re Learning

  • Problem solving
  • Scientific thinking (trial and error, cause and effect)
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Pre-writing skills (shoulder strength, hand division)
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Turn-taking skills