Got a cardboard box lid, some craft sticks, and a glue gun? Make your own marble maze! Just pencil out where you want your sticks to go, then lay down a line of glue, attach the stick, and so on till you’re done.
I got this idea from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls. It’s easy as can be. I’m waffling though on whether to have it as an activity in my Family Inventors’ Lab. (See below.)
We did a couple of simple back and forth mazes:
Here they are in action:
Then, in a lid from a box of boots, we made a more complex maze, and added Marvel superhero stickers just for the fun of it.
All three of ours were sized so a large bouncy ball would fit through them. You could make a much tighter and more complex maze if you used popsicle sticks and cut them into shorter lengths and designed it to fit a marble. Your limits on how tight the corners can be are all about how big the ball is that you want to fit through the spaces. When I glued mine in, I tested each of the tight gaps to be sure it would work.
Will I use it in class – safety considerations
You really need to use a glue gun. Craft glue just takes too long to set, and the bond isn’t usually strong enough to keep the sticks up on their side – they’d likely just flop over flat. I used a high temp glue gun and it worked GREAT – stick in seconds and stand up to lots of use! On Frugal Fun, they used a low temp gun, and say it worked well. I would let my five year old use a glue gun, but I teach a class for 3 – 7 year olds, and I’m just not sure about them using the glue gun.
Hot glue guns can burn you. I know, because I burned myself while doing these projects. I’m a careful grown-up and I wouldn’t have expected to burn myself, but I didn’t expect a drop of hot glue to roll off the stick and on to my thumb. It didn’t “injure” me in terms of causing any burn that needed treatment, but man oh man does it hurt!
Teacher Tom makes some great arguments for why hot glue guns are such a powerful maker tool for kids, enabling them to do things they simply can’t do with regular glue (like this marble maze) and shares how even preschoolers can handle glue guns well. I’ll have to think on this more…
Buggy and Buddy has a great idea for marble mazes where kids tape and glue paper arches, yarn tracks, and wiki stix guides onto a paper plate. I look forward to testing this.