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Fun with Marbles

free play with marbles

I have a jar with all sorts of marbles from my days of playing marbles in France. We use them for all sorts of things. We play marbles (the French and the American way), mix them with play dough, and put them in our sensory table (the weight and smoothness of marbles makes for a great sensory experience). Sometimes we use them to track our way to family rewards.

Rainy Day Fun with Marbles


Marbles are also great for free play! The kids divide them up, sort them, and arrange them in different patterns. This type of free play is a great way for kids to work on the observational skills that both scientists and artists use on a daily basis! Sometimes more than one child will want a particular marble (like the gigantic shooter marble in the photo below), and this gives them an opportunity to work on negotiation and compromise. All of the marbles go in time out if there is conflict, so the kids have gotten really good at working issues like this out on their own!

marbles make for all sorts of great activities!

Do your kids play with marbles? How do they use them? Did you play with marbles as a kid?

afterschool linky

The Educators’ Spin On It, Boy Mama Teacher Mama, Mama Smiles,Planet Smarty Pants, Relentlessly Fun Deceptively Educational, This Reading Mama

There were lots of really great ideas in last week’s after school activities linky! Here were some of my favorites:

Do you have a post to share this week? The after school linky is a space for you to share crafts and activities for children aged 5-12 years old. My fellow cohosts and I pick our favorites to feature each week, and we may also pin your post to our popular After School Activities board on Pinterest, or some of our personal boards!

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

18 thoughts on “Fun with Marbles”

  1. I remember playing marbles at school growing up. It was just a certain season that we were allowed to bring them in. I loved them; so beautiful! But my kids have not played with marbles and don’t seem interested. Such a shame!

  2. While I have a big huge jar of marbles, we don’t really get them out because my kids are not the best at putting them away afterwards…. Maybe I should try working on them with that.

  3. I think I do a lot more finding marbles all over the house while cleaning than my kids do playing with them, lol, but I still love them for all the reasons you mentioned :-)

  4. Elisa | blissfulE

    My sister and I played marbles (without any idea what the real rules were!) on the green linoleum inside the front door of the house we grew up in. It was a smooth yet contained surface perfect for such games. Where do you recommend I have my kids try marbles at our house? The former owner left a jar of them for us, but brick paving seems too rough, and I don’t think it’s prudent to let them roll all over our wood floors. How big would a shallow cardboard box need to be to work as a smooth yet contained area? Or do you have another idea for a good play surface?

      1. Elisa | blissfulE

        Building an enclosure with DUPLO is a fantastic idea, MaryAnne!!! And we will have to try tic et tac.

        Thank you so much for these great ideas. I do wish I still received your comment replies in my email like I used to!

  5. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    I immediately thought of a scene from the movie “Hook” – about an old guy who lost him marbles. We have some marbles, and they often get mixed into Playmobil and Lego scenarios, but daughter doesn’t play much with marbles themselves…

  6. My mom has a jar full of marbles she dug up from my paternal grandparents flower gardens. Apparently, when my dad was in grade school, he would hide the marbles he won at school in the flower gardens, so his parents wouldn’t know he’d been “gambling”. I really wanted to swipe the jar, while we were there visiting, But, somehow that didn’t seem right either :)

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