Last year AJ told us that what she really wanted for Christmas was a ‘blueberry rollercoaster.’ Additional information wasn’t really forthcoming, so she got some other things for Christmas, along with a letter from Santa telling her that his elves were busy researching the blueberry rollercoaster, and he hoped to have it finished for next year. Claire and I assumed that she’d forget about it after Christmas, but of course she hasn’t forgotten and mentions it occasionally, along with the fact that she’ll be getting one next Christmas.
Fastforward to a couple of weeks ago, when AJ was given a bag of marbles. I think marbles are an almost perfect toy; you can build endless variations of games around them, and kids can play with them in a group or by themselves. After playing a few different kind of marble games, I decided it would be fun to create some impromptu marble runs out of bits of cardboard that we had handy. I cut some edges off of an ikea box, and folded them in half so that they were V-shaped. These ended up making a pretty good run, and they were easily taped together. Then we took the flat part of the box and propped it up so that it was on a nice slope for the incoming marbles. Sometimes they rolled back down and sometimes they went over the edge and into the castle on the other side. Fun!
Once we had set this up AJ immediately proclaimed, ‘Hey! this is just like the blueberry rollercoaster!’ Ah ha! So now Santa’s elves have a crucial piece of information.
We played around with a few variations, and AJ continued to move things around and add bits of sticky tape at random to the contraption.
There are plenty of marble machines that you can purchase, but I think it’s pretty fun to be able to build something yourself. Given that the first trial of this using cardboard was pretty successful, I’m going to try making something more elaborate next time. My main criteria are that the materials must be inexpensive and must pack away easily. Stay tuned.