Cardboard Tube Marble Run

If you're like me, there's a pretty good chance that you have a growing "collection" of toilet paper and maybe paper towel rolls filling up your recycling bin, and you may have already found ways to repurpose them into crafts with your kids. This project was born out of my daughter's interest in marble runs, and it kept her entertained for hours over the course of a week, which is truly a feat! What I especially love about this activity is that it requires very little in terms of materials, the clean-up is minimal, and it encourages children to use problem-solving and creative thinking skills.

  1. Ages: 5 - 11

  2. 2+ hours

  3. A little messy

  4. Grownup needed

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    My daughter began by decorating the tubes with strips of colorful tape. When she was done, I cut the rolls lengthwise and then she decorated the inside of the rolls with markers.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Done!

    With her help and input, I taped the tubes to a canvas with blue painters tape, and then we tested the run to see if it worked. It did! If you look closely you'll see an orange marble falling (very quickly) out of the bottom of the last chute. The nice thing about the tape is that you can move the parts around easily, add new chutes, and test out different configurations. After this prototype, we made another much larger run directly on our newly-painted walls--and it worked out great. Happy rolling!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

Share what you made & tag us at!