September 19, 2012
The boys and I worked on this DIY marble ramp as an easy after-school-project. It may not be the prettiest project we’ve come up with, but the boys (mostly my almost 7-year-old) were engrossed and I didn’t hear “I’m bored, mom!” once today. To make your own, all you need are cardboard tubes from paper towel or toilet paper rolls, a hole punch, pegboard, metal brads (the kind that holds papers together), a paper cup, and acrylic paints. And of course, marbles!
We painted the rolls earlier this week so they’d be nice and dry before assembly. The layer of paint helps stiffen the cardboard a bit, making it sturdier. After splitting some of the tubes down the middle (you may want to keep a few intact to make ‘tunnels’), we hole punched along the edge, spacing the holes so they align with the pegboard. Kai figured out that punching as he was assembling was easiest for him. Thread metal brads through the tubes and pegboard to attach. Our board leaned up against the wall so the boys could reach around the back to fold out the brads.
You may need to squeeze the tubes to make them nice and concave, especially if they keep getting flattened by a baby. Madness. Catch the marble in a paper cup attached at the very bottom of the ramp.
The neat thing about using metal brads is that you can disassemble the ramp to come up with new configurations. Also makes it easy to fix any mistakes and extreme angles that send your marble flying off course.
I can see us experimenting by adding obstacles, trap doors, and bells that the marbles can bump into. My kids love Japanese Rube Goldberg Machines so our simple ramp is a great segue to more sophisticated designs!
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