How to Make a DIY Marble Run

Recycle toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes to make a fun DIY Marble run with the kids. Make a fun day of playing with the marble run you have made out of regular household items.

diy marble run
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How to Build a Marble Run out of Cardboard Tubes

Crafts like this marble run that become activities are some of the best ways to make memories with kids, like this paper helicopter spinner, making a fishing game to play, or how to tie-dye flowers. This marble run activity is also a great lesson in science and engineering. Get the kid’s creative juices flowing in how to make a design the marble will successfully run down and have fun creating more and more possibilities.

With a family of 6, we go through a lot of toilet paper and paper towels. So, when I see an idea for using cardboard tubes, I’m all over it.

This fun homemade marble run has to be one of the biggest hits with the kids. It’s so simple to make. After they had their fun with it I left a little basket in the kitchen filled with marbles, along with their magnetic paper towel, and toilet paper tubes. They started a new design each morning to drop the marble into.

Supplies You’ll Need

marble run supplies
  • Magnetic Tape and/or Magnetic Discs – You’ll need strong magnets to withstand pressure from a falling marble. Getting the magnetic tape and strong discs is a good idea. I had to add two magnetic discs to the back of each styrofoam cup
  • Cardboard Tubes – from toilet paper and paper towel
  • Marbles – You can usually find these at most big department stores and even at The Dollar Tree
  • Styrofoam or plastic cups – These make a fun funnel shape to add to the marble run
  • Bucket or tall plastic container (like an old pretzel rod container) – This is set on the floor and can be used to catch the marbles.
  • Glue – I used a low-temperature glue gun to glue the magnets onto the tubes and cups. I wanted to make sure the glue had a secure hold that could withstand the pressure from a falling marble

Suggestions for decorating your tubes:

Fun decorative paper
Stickers
Crayons or paint

Here’s what we did to make our magnetic marble run:

Decorate paper tubes

making a homemade marble run

Cut a large hole into the bottom of the cups

Add magnetic strips or discs onto the back of the cups and tubes.

making a homemade marble run

Decorate you marble run with fun stickers, or by drawing designs on them

marble run pieces

Place tubes and cups in fun designs so they are vertical and diagonal on the refrigerator

Place your bucket or plastic container under your tubes – We found a large pretzel container to catch the marbles – the kids thought of using a plastic cup with a magnetic clip to catch the marbles. They both work great.

Then, let the kids add marbles to the top tube and watch it shoot through their maze.

homemade marble run

Experiment with placing objects at different angles and distances to see how many ways you can get a successful marble run.

marble run pieces on refrigerator

Expert Tips

I found that the magnetic strips I had were not strong enough for the cups to hold. I replaced them with stronger magnetic discs and glued two to each cup to get the right amount of magnetic power we needed

If your magnets are not strong enough, you can try taping the items to your fridge. Make sure the tape will not damage your refrigerator.

Instead of a refrigerator, use a large dry-erase board that is magnetized

Variations

Cut holes in paper tubes and turn them sideways as another way of shuttling the marble down the run

Instead of cutting out the entire bottom of cups, you can cut marble-sized holes into your cups and use them as a type of funnel to drop the marble into

More fun Activities You’ll Enjoy

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    Printable Instructions

    marble run craft
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    5 from 1 vote

    How to Make a DIY Marble Run

    A quick and easy craft and activity for the kids
    Prep Time10 minutes
    Active Time10 minutes
    Total Time20 minutes
    Yield: 1
    Author: Melissa Haines
    Cost: $5

    Materials

    • Magnetic Tape or Magnetic discs You'll need strong magnets that can withstand pressure from a falling marble
    • Cardboard Tubes from toilet paper and paper towels
    • Marbles
    • Styrofoam or plastic cups
    • Bucket or tall plastic container like an old pretzel rod container for catching the marbles
    • Glue I used a low temperature glue gun and sticks

    Decorative Items

    • Fun decorative paper
    • Stickers
    • Crayons or paint

    Instructions

    • Cut a large hole into the bottom of the cups
    • Decorate paper tubes
    • Use strong glue or tape magnetic strips or discs on the back of the cups and tubes. (I had to glue two magnetic discs per cup)
    • Place tubes and cups in fun designs so they are vertical and diagonal
    • Place your bucket or plastic container under your tubes. Alternatively, you can place a cup that has a strong magnet on the back face up onto the refrigerator at the bottom of hte run to catch the marble.
    • Then, let the kids add marbles to the top tube and watch it shoot through their maze

    Notes

    For added fun, the kids can cut holes into the sides of the paper tubes and line them up so the marble drops into the holes. This gives the kids more ways to design their run. 
    Place your tubes and cups close other or spread them further apart and see how many ways you can get a successful marble run 
    Always supervise children with any craft, especially when working with glue and sharp objects. 

    ~Melissa – KidFriendlyThingsToDo.Com 

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