DIY Marble Ramp

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!

14 Comments

  1. Comment by Faith on September 19, 2012 11:53 pm

    This is genius! Awesome job.

  2. Comment by Jess on September 20, 2012 6:33 am

    Hello! New friend here from Brisbane, Australia- just wanted to say how fabulous I find all of your posts (and I have just trawled through a gazillion of them). Thanks for sharing your talent and funky ideas. Go you!

  3. Comment by Jenn on September 20, 2012 2:04 pm

    Thank you!

    Jess, your comment made my day!

  4. Comment by Helen on September 20, 2012 3:09 pm

    This is my first time on your site too, this is amazing, such a clever idea, I can imagine that this could occupy a child for hours, trying different directions and paths for the marbles to go. Great

  5. Comment by Mariana on September 20, 2012 8:54 pm

    genius! ♥

  6. Comment by Kersey on September 21, 2012 12:05 am

    Jenn, this is genius! This may be Elliott’s big Christmas gift this year. So rad!

  7. Pingback by CraftCrave | Blog | Textual List: Friday, 21 Sep 2012 on September 21, 2012 4:06 am

    [...] DIY Marble Ramp – 1 freebie(s)? [...]

  8. Comment by Hannah @ Making Boys Men on October 9, 2012 10:10 pm

    This looks like such fun, my boys would really love this. We tried something similar, but with magnets, but they weren’t always strong enough for the weight of the marble, pegboard is such a great idea!

  9. Comment by Heather on October 10, 2012 2:51 pm

    Followed the link from the Crafty Crow; this is an amazing idea. I was going to get my boys (5 and 8) a marble run for Christmas, but now thinking I could just assemble the components for your project here, and let them have at it! Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Comment by Amanda Miss Panda on October 10, 2012 6:03 pm

    What a wonderful creation! I enjoy all your creative inventions and ideas. Aloha!

  11. Comment by Jenn on October 10, 2012 7:43 pm

    Heather,
    Glad to share! And we actually have the (plastic) marble kit too, but that didn’t stop my kids from enjoying this one! Either way, can’t go wrong : )

  12. Comment by Montessori Motherload on October 24, 2012 6:54 pm

    This is great! Perfect for me because it doesn’t involve wood and nails, etc. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Pingback by happy birthday to my boys | { Ambrosia Creative } on November 9, 2012 11:55 pm

    [...] Kai had attached balloons filled with Halloween jokes to the same sheet of pegboard we used for our homemade marble ramp. The kids took turns popping a balloon with a push pin, then reading the joke aloud. This went over [...]

  14. Comment by Maryjane on February 6, 2014 10:10 pm

    I teach autistic kids and we have the plastic marble set. A couple of my students love the marble set and I think this project would be very meaningful for them! I can’t wait to see their creativity! Thanks for such a good idea! Your sons are lucky to have such a great, involved mom!

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