My son and I happened upon a super cool engineering toy that we wanted to share with you. My boyfriend says it’s been around a long time, but it’s my first time ever hearing of it. It’s called Marble Run, and it’s a tiny engineer’s dream.
Why It’s Good:
Similar to LEGO, it requires kids to build strength in their hands and fingers by attaching, detaching, and reattaching parts of the structure. It also requires design-thinking and creativity. Each piece that the marble can roll down has a closed side and an open side. The goal is to design structures that you can drop marbles into to make a marble obstacle course of sorts. The engineering part comes in when your child builds something with a route in mind, but the marble does something completely different. Then, the have to re-evaluate their design and think about what they need to do to achieve their intended goal. Love love love that about this toy. I even have a good time with this – it’s for all ages, really.
There’s just one catch. When you go to Amazon or wherever to search, you’ll find that sooo many vendors make this toy and most of them are TERRIBLY made. How do I know? I’ve purchased 3 of them. I took my loss on the first one, returned the 2nd one (a piece literally cracked in my child’s hand), and decided to spend some time carefully researching (product reviews can be super shady nowadays). The bad Marble Run sets are hard to stack together, which makes a small child lose interest and the parent ends up doing the building. Also, the bad sets have cheap, fake marbles, which takes a lot away from the whole concept of having smooth, shiny marbles that will make parents nostalgic.
And now I present to you the best Marble Run:
This set has beautiful, real marbles (makes that satisfying clanking sound), and it has parts that are easy to stack together for the marbles to travel through. There are sturdy funnels, windmills, and other cool parts that will get your kiddo’s noodle going. The perfect birthday gift for any child. It’s one of our favorite developmental family toys. Again, don’t be fooled when you see a cheap one – this one will make a great gift for any child (see choking hazard age before purchasing).