Many marble run manufacturers tout the educational benefits of marble runs but let’s be honest buying a marble run isn’t going to have a direct impact on your child’s academic performance so how educational are they really? It’s a question that many parents ask so we’ve put together a list based on feedback from other parents like you.
The first thing to know is that the educational value is more abstract and indirect, it’s not going to help with reading, writing and arithmetic. If you want to look at toys that help with science, technology, engineering and math, check out this list. Here is what marble runs can help with though:
It’s something we all have to do and particularly as your child gets older they will be expected to take exams which require strict adherence to the instructions give in the paper. Every marble run kit comes with instructions on how to build different runs and your child will need to follow the instructions closely to build a working track. Some of the more advanced marble runs contain many complex parts which needs a lot of concentration to build.
Depending on the size of marble run kit that you buy it can take up to an hour to build the marble run. This requires patience and concentration as unlike many other modern toys it doesn’t give instant gratification out of the box.
Most marble runs can be built in to custom tracks and once your child has built the suggested tracks from the manufacturers they can try their hand at building their own run. You can add to the challenge by asking them to build the highest run possible or to build a track with a limited number of pieces or to build a marble run that takes the longest amount of time for the marble to get from the top to the bottom.
Since marble runs are built in three dimensions, you child will need to learn what effect each block will have. Some of the more complex marble runs have blocks that can send a marble off in different directions. Being able to visualize what impact a block might have on the path of the marble as the marble run is constructed is a crucial element of spatial thinking.
At times, marble runs can be temperamental beasts. A slight knock and the whole thing can come crashing down if it’s not built sturdily enough. Just like the game of Jenga, your child needs to develop fine motor skills when placing the blocks, especially as the marble run grows in size.
If your child has a sibling or is playing with a marble run with a friend then sharing and collaboration skills become vitally important. Most marble runs won’t stand up to boisterous play, but by working together with others, your child can learn about collaborating, teamwork and even compromise if one child has different ideas of how to construct the marble run.
Older children and teenagers are not limited to skills directly related to dreaming up and building a marble run. There are plenty of examples on YouTube of older kids creating huge marble runs that traverse the entire house. These take a lot of planning and days to construct. They then video the entire process and edit the video together to share on YouTube. Creating videos, sharing and promoting them on YouTube is a whole new skillset that they have acquired simply from their interest in marble runs. Just check out the marble run in the video below, it took the children days to plan, build and shoot the marble run, not to mention the skills required to work together as a team and edit the final video.
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Do you know some other educational benefits that a marble run can give? Let other parents know by posting in the comments below and share your unique knowledge.