Remember playing with marbles? Well, it's time to be reintroduced to some old favorites so you can have a ball of fun!
I'm the king of games for kids and like this list of things to do with friends when bored found here, I'm also a resident game nerd and fun enthusiast. I've written about the best games to play over text and the most fun board games for adults, so I know my stuff!
Now, come roll with me and dive into the world of playing marbles...
What is a Marble Game (Exactly)?
A marble game is any game played with marbles, a hard, small, spherical object. There are many game types with varying rules and goals, some requiring you to throw, flick, drop or even knuckle marbles for points.
The balls used in these games can be made from either glass, steel, plastic, clay, or agate, and they differ in size. They're popular for their aesthetic colors and are often collected.
Marbles weren't played using marble stones for thousands of years. Early Egyptians, Native Americans, and Aztecs used round pebbles or rounded clays. From cave dwellers playing to kill time to national marbles tournaments played for pride, these keep rolling through time.
Marbles are easily found in dollar stores, or most places toys are sold. Depending on the game being played, you may need cups, string, chalk, pen and paper, and sometimes a timer.
A great thing about playing with marbles is that they can be played alone or with friends.
The most important thing to keep in mind when playing with marbles is their size. They are a potential choking hazard, so they should be kept out of reach from young children.
Most common marbles are made from glass, and as some games require you to throw or flick them, they can crack and break due to thermal shock. It's better to dispose of these and clean any shards left behind.
4 Most Popular Variants of Playing Marbles with Kids
Playing with marbles has been an enjoyable pastime for generations. Like this list of fun things to do with friends on Mantelligence.com, marbles can create some spontaneous fun and true bonding moments.
Kids will love the colors and the many variations of games available, from traditional to the more contemporary spins.
Here are 4 games to play with kids:
1. Classic Marble Game
This is a simple game that's quite fun. The object is to use a shooter marble to hit as many target marbles out of the ring as possible.
How to play
You will need to draw a ring with chalk or create one using a string, with a diameter of about three feet wide (90cm). Place 10 to 15 marbles inside the circle.
The Player then kneels outside the circle, flicking their shooter marble at the marbles inside the circle, aiming to hit them out of the ring. If you get a target marble out of the ring, you get another turn. If you don't, the next player goes.
You can decide how to choose a winner of the game. It can be either the player with the most target marbles at the end or the player that can get the most marbles out of the circle in one turn.
2. Hole Game
The winner in this one is the last player standing!
Players must first flick their marble from a certain distance into the hole. If successful, they get a chance to flick their marble out of the hole, aiming at other players' marbles nearby. If they hit another opponent's marble, that player is out of the game.
How to play
The game rules are simple in this game.
You will need to dig a small hole about 3 inches across and draw a line about 7 to 9 feet back from the hole. This will be your starting point.
To begin, players must flick their shooter into the hole from the starting point. If they're successful in getting into the hole, they can shoot from inside the hole and go after another person's marble.
If they hit another player's marble with their 2nd hit, that player is out. If they miss, they leave their marble where it landed and shoot from there next go.
You can only go for another player's marble from inside the hole. If you get into the hole then manage to shoot out and hit another player's marble, you must get back into the hole again before going for a second player.
3. Bullseye Marbles
Are you good at bowling? How about darts? Well, this game combines the two! Aim for the bullseye to get the highest score.
How to play
You will need to draw a bullseye, or target rings, on the ground using chalk. Each circle is assigned a number of points, with the number increasing as you get closer to the middle. The bullseye should have the highest score.
All players get the same number of marbles to shoot, roll, throw or flick into the circles, aiming for the center. Count your scores up to determine who has the highest score. And, of course, the highest score wins!
4. Marble Bounce Game
In this fun game, you'll need a cup. It's a great game for indoors and is one you can play without a playing field.
How to play
There's only one rule in this one; aim and shoot your marble into the cup.
If that seems too simple and you want to kick it up a notch or make the objective a little harder, try adding a rule where your marble must bounce off the floor or wall into the cup.
A good activity for you to practice your trick shot!
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4 Marble Plays that Are More Fun Outside
There are a lot of fun things to do, and some things are just better outside! So, if you're looking for something fun to do, step out of the house and try some of these entertaining games.
Here are 4 games for outdoor fun:
5. Marble Toss
This is a popular marbles game you can buy at the shops. It's usually made of wood, but there are many ways to easily make cheap home versions, like using toilet rolls taped together. If you have spare plumbing pipes of varying heights, these can be used too.
How to play
You will need a series of holes or tubes to toss your marbles into, each hole having varying points. Each player gets the same number of marbles to throw. At the end of the end, the person with the highest score wins.
6. Eggs in a Basket
If the children are tired of the same old games indoors, why not try this one? It's easy, customizable, and you only need marbles, a marker, and some empty egg cartons.
How to play
Similar to the traditional game of Marble Toss, except this time, you'll be tossing your marbles into empty egg cartons. You can color each compartment and add varying points to each. The winner is the player with the highest points at the end of the game.
Another way to play this and make it unique is by not playing for scores at all. Instead, you assign a fun dare to each slot, and whichever your marble lands in, that's the dare you must do.
7. Mini Marble Golf
Move aside board game; we're going to marble it! This is super fun and tests your accuracy and precision. A player must use a shooter to get a marble into the hole. Of course, it wouldn't be mini-golf without obstacles!
How to play
This does take a little more preparation, but you can make it as easy or as hard as you want. Dig a small hole at one end of your playing area, then choose a starting point a good distance away. Add your obstacles in between!
You must use 2 marbles, one as your ball and one as the shooter. Use your shooter to hit your ball and get it into the hole in as least shots as possible, passing each barrier along the way.
You can add arches your marbles must pass under or add toilet rolls you must go through. Each player goes through the same obstacles, but the winner is whoever does so with the least amount of flicks with the shooter marble.
8. DIY Marble Maze
This is similar to Mini Golf, except this time, you're racing with time. You can even play with no hands!
How to play
Use anything you can find around the house or garden to build mazes. Players must then race to get their marbles from start to finish. If you don't have enough material to construct multiple mazes, you can build one, and players take turns and are timed. The faster player wins.
There is a no-hands version of this game where instead of using your fingers to flick or roll your marble to the exit, you must blow it through the maze instead.
4 Games With Marbles That Can Be Enjoyed Online
There are a lot of things to do online when bored, like the fun list you can find here on Mantelligence.com. But did you know marbles are now popular and being enjoyed online too?
Here are 4 games with marbles that can be enjoyed online:
9. Marble Run
You might remember this educational game from your school days, where you create an obstacle of your marble to run through.
How to play
The idea of this is to connect ramps and slides for your marbles to run along. It's a bite-sized physics lesson, where you try to build the biggest and best structure.
10. Jungle Marble Blast
If you like truly addictive shooter games, this one is for you! Of course, rights reserved to the creator.
How to play
In Jungle Marble Blast, you need to clear all of the marbles before they reach the end of the course by shooting and matching 3 or more marbles of the same color. Complete as many combos as possible for higher scores.
11. Marbles on Stream
This one is a little different. It's designed for gaming streamers to interact with their communities. And you can even customize your marbles to stand out amongst the crowd!
How to play
Put your driving skills to the test because this is a race! Compete on a global leader board for the number one spot.
Similar to Jungle Marble Blast, this is an action-packed puzzler. So if you're looking for other fun things to do at home that are different from the list found here, this game is for you!
How to play
With 3D graphics, you need to match 3 or more marbles together to clear the deadly chain. You can get big combos and special bonuses too!
Downloadable and Printable List of Activities With Marbles
Here is a downloadable and printable jpeg/pdf list of plays using marbles (right-click the image and select Save Image As..):
5 Fun Facts About Marbles That Will Amaze You
Did you know the British and World Marbles Championship has been held in Tinsley Green, West Sussex, since 1588? In fact, there are so many astonishing fun facts about marbles we thought we'd share our favorites.
Here are 5 amazing fun facts:
1. Marbles were invented thousands of years ago and were a popular item in Ancient Egypt and Rome.
They have stayed popular throughout the years. There is even a national marbles tournament held every year in New Jersey. They play the classic game to win thousands of dollars in college scholarships and sportsmanship awards for their professional skills.
2. Marbles are often collected due to the variety and value of some very rare specimens.
One of the most expensive and rarest marbles in the world is the Confetti Mica Marble. It's a glass marble with a common confetti pattern, but this one is made with actual mica flakes, making it expensive. It sold at auction for $11000.
3. Marbles, said to be named due to the stone they were manufactured from in the past, have been historically made of clay, and they were also produced using glass or stone.
Marbles can be made out of any hard material, but it is rare for them to be made of actual marble. Clay marbles are even more common.
4. Marbles aren't just toys.
Marbles actually have industrial uses. For example, they're often used inside spray paint cans to help mix the paint when it's shaken. Marbles are sometimes also used in building finishes, art, paving stones, and even road signs because of their ability to reflect light.
5. There are various types of marbles, and names vary from locality to locality.
Some types of popular marbles include the cat's eye, a clear, glass marble with an eye-shaped insert or core, bumblebee marbles, a mostly yellow, machine-made marble with two black stripes, and plain glass marbles of varying colors, but are transparent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Games using marbles are often easier than a card game, but still, you might have questions. Here, we've answered the most frequently asked:
How do you win in a marble game?
This depends on the game you're playing. Some games are about striking other marbles with yours, while others are about hitting a particular mark. Most games will have a point system.
What age is appropriate to play marbles?
Young children should always be supervised when playing with marbles, but the appropriate age to start playing these games is five years old.
What do kids learn from a game of marbles?
Children can learn geometry and maths depending on the games they're playing. It encourages strategic thinking and puts their fine motor skills to the test. It can also introduce them to teamwork and sportsmanship.
What does it mean to play marbles “for keeps”?
When rules are "for keeps" it means you get to keep any marbles you win during the competition indefinitely.
What are some other uses for marbles?
They're regularly used as decorations around the home as vase fillers. But another idea is to use them in your gardens. Because marbles can reflect light and color, marbles can be added to plaster stepping stones as a finishing touch or any garden ornament or sculpture.
More Awesome Play Ideas
If you're looking for some great things to do during a get-together or entertaining ways to kill time, these are perfect!
- For the summertime, outdoor party games are a bucket load of fun!
- Have some new friends coming around? Why not try get-to-know-you games? In fact, these are also great for the office!
- Kids love to make a splash! Actually, so do most adults. That's why you can never go wrong with water games!
Playing marbles are the games to play! Marbles are great for any occasion, easy to set up and get started, and there is something for every personality.
Add a traditional game of marbles to the fun list of things to do with friends when bored found here! Remember, they're not just games for kids; these can be as challenging as you want them to be.