Summer Fun with Marbles!

A Guest Post

by , posted on June 29th, 2011 in Games & Creative Play, Guest Posts

It’s summer fun time! Today, Stephanie from Neuroses Galore is here to share with us a little about a super fun summertime treat—Marbles!



Sometimes I feel like I’m on an endless quest for just the right type of outdoor toy. The silver bullet of outdoor toys that doesn’t require me to push it or to help it be shared, wash it away or otherwise direct its use. I’ve tried all kinds of things. I’d even love to have a swing set but it’s just not in the cards for our tiny city yard. Enter the most compact outdoor toy ever! Just about everyone can play and it requires minimal adult direction but you’ll want to play anyway. Marbles!

I was intrigued by a book about marble play that I picked up somewhere with its marbles long since lost. My kids are 4 and 1 so I’m most interested in games for the preschool set but, as it turns out, marble games are infinitely adaptable for all ages.

First things first, you have to learn how to shoot. In my experience games with the preschool crowd are no fun when you are too hard and fast about the rules. We practiced “knuckling down” but it was easier to bowl or flick the marbles. The kids used whatever was most comfortable but I tried to do it the official way to level the playing field a bit. In the end it really didn’t matter so try different things and have fun with it.



Bridgeboard was by far our favorite game. To play you cut several openings into the side of a shoebox and assign each one a number. Divide the marbles evenly among players, take a few big steps back, draw a line to shoot from and then bowl or flick your marbles toward the box. You score points for every marble that goes in through an opening based on the number that’s assigned to it. We used low numbers so that it wouldn’t get too confusing to keep score.



As soon as we started playing I was amazed by how engaging the game is and how much thinking and learning happens while you play. You have to practice all kinds of skills not only to get your marble through the target but also to write names and keep score. After a while the score sheet started to get a little unruly and I realized that this would be a terrific way to start teaching tallies. Alternatively you can make the game even easier by playing Boxies and bowling into the empty box without the challenge of the smaller openings.



Black snake is fun. It’s like golf or croquet with marbles. You shoot your marble from obstacle to obstacle until you reach the end of the course. Dropsies is fun too but you need to have a good supply of marbles to make it fun. We kind of don’t have enough between what we pilfered from Kerplunk and our marble run. You can buy loose marbles in Baltimore at aMuse Toys.

The most important things I took away from this adventure were: to have fun, do what works, to let my kids explore the marbles and to not worry if some of them get lost in the grass. You absolutely cannot worry about losing marbles and you can’t get hung up on the rules. I’m happy if we keep up with turn taking and we never did get around to playing a traditional game of marbles but who’s counting?! Marbles are all about fun. Now go have some!

Links to all of the games I mentioned above (but didn’t fully describe) can be found via the links below plus a couple of other things that I thought looked cool.


Other fun things with marbles:

Outdoor Handy Book
Cereal Box Marble Run
Oh Marbles Lite App
Marble Activities for Kids


Ever wonder how a marble is made? While most marbles today are machine-made in molds, there is still a rich tradition in hand-making glass marbles. Watch:



About Stephanie:

I’m a mom to two terrific little girls in Baltimore. I’m a teacher and a lawyer by trade and now that I’m grown up I’m trying to figure out ways to merge what I love about those two professions. When I’m not in full time mommy mode I consult for the Baltimore City Public Schools in the Charles Village neighborhood to improve the schools’ capacity to engage the community and market themselves. In the fall I go back to teaching pre school at Community Play School, a child-centered and individualized arts-enriched program inspired by the Reggio Emilia method. I like making stuff too. You can see some of my work in One Yard Wonders and in Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders which releases in November. But most of all I like having fun.

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4 Responses to “Summer Fun with Marbles!”

  1. Mary Lynn E. Longsworth Says:

    June 30th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    The great thing about marbles, anyone can play, and they have, all throughout history! Toy marbles have been found in ancient Egyptian sites, ancient Roman sites, ancient Greek sites, and even ancient Mayan sites. As for me, as a mom and an archaeology student, I look at marbles from sites here in the United States, mainly from the Colonial Period all the way up to the turn of the last century (1600-1900 roughly). Loads of fun!

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Thanks so much for that background info! It is rather amazing when you think about it, isn’t it? How long certain toys/games have been around. We’re hardwired to play.

  2. DIY Friendship bracelet tutorials - Kids Printables and Games - Illustration and Animation | Small for Big Says:

    July 1st, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    [...] wanna play with marbles all afternoon after reading this brilliant marble games post over at Classic Play – with ideas great for younger kiddos. Get your marbles and meet me on [...]

  3. Phew | Says:

    July 6th, 2011 at 1:56 am

    [...] in the meantime, today I’m hanging out over at Classic Play so hop over and check out the guest post I wrote about playing marbles!  I love Classic Play.  It’s chock full of great ideas for [...]

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