When was the last time you played with a bunch of marbles? While marbles were probably a big part of your childhood, they’ve become practically obsolete these days. After all – with the dawn of high-tech gadgets, robotic toys, and the internet, can vintage toys really compete?
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But even if it’s been a while since you played with your extensive marble collection, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. So before you toss out that box of marbles that’s been collecting dust in your closet, here are a few fun types of marble games that you can try with your friends and family.
The classic game of marbles is one that many of us grew up playing. But if the rules are a little cloudy, don’t sweat it. Here’s a quick rundown of how to play a classic game of marbles so you can get the gang in on the fun.
How to Play:
- Draw a chalk circle at least 2 feet in diameter. If there are more players, draw a bigger circle.
- Arrange several marbles in a circle formation inside the chalk circle.
- Each player needs to have one playing marble to use throughout the game.
- To start, the first player should roll their marble into the playing circle.
- The objective is to knock the other marbles out of the chalk circle.
- Each marble is worth one point.
- If a marble is knocked out of the circle, then the player gets to keep that marble and scores a point.
- Players take turns, rolling their play marble around the circle.
- Play marbles are not allowed to leave the playing circle.
- Players can move their marbles by flicking it with their thumb.
- The player with the most marbles at the end of the game is crowned the winner.
Mini Marble Golf
Best played outdoors, mini marble golf is a great test of accuracy and precision. As one of the best marble games for kids, this easy format is slow-paced, simple, and minimally competitive, making it ideal for smaller kids who are only just starting to learn the ropes of playing with marbles.
How to Play:
- Dig a small hole into the ground, big enough to accommodate a marble.
- If you’re playing indoors, shape a piece of clay into a letter C, and create a cove by shaping the clay onto the floor. Make sure that the opening of the cove is big enough to accommodate the diameter of your marbles.
- Designate a distance from which you will try to roll your marbles into the hole or cove.
- The first player will stand at the starting point and roll their marble towards the hole.
- If their marble makes it to the hole on their first try, then the player can sit out the rest of the round.
- The next player then takes a shot with their own marble.
- The objective of the game is to get the marble into the hole or cove with as few shots as possible.
- If the marble doesn’t make it into the hole on the first try, then it’s played wherever it might stop after being rolled.
- Players can create small obstacles and challenges around their mini marble golf course to up the challenge and make it more exciting!
Eggs In a Basket
Playing with a friend or two? If you’ve got an excess of marbles and an empty egg carton laying around, then Eggs In a Basket can be a great game to play. With minimal effort and a big opportunity to customize the game to your own standards, Eggs In a Basket can be the perfect way to pass the time with a few good pals.
How to Play:
- Take an empty egg carton and a black marker
- Flip over the carton and write underneath each egg compartment:
“15” under one compartment
“10” under two compartments
“5” under four compartments
“1” under five compartments
- The first player to take a turn will hold five marbles.
- Each marble will represent one chance.
- The player tosses each marble, aiming to land into one of the egg carton’s compartments.
- The egg carton should be at least 2 feet away, and on a flat, level surface.
- When the first player finishes throwing all five marbles, his score is tallied and recorded.
- Then, the next player takes their turn.
- All players get a chance to toss marbles into the carton.
- The player at the end of the game who scores the most points is declared the winner.
- To change things up, players have the option to replace what’s written under the carton.
- In some variations, the egg carton’s compartments are labeled one to twelve. Each of the numbers corresponds to a truth or dare challenge.
- Think up your own variation and tailor this game format to enjoy the fun in your own unique way!
For the more advanced marble player, Booby Trap is a wonderful game that will test your frustration tolerance, your fine motor skills, and your capability to keep your cool even when things get a little tight. Perfect for passing the time at school or in the summer, Booby Trap can become an instant favorite between you and your friends.
How to Play:
- Take a bunch of pens or pencils and position them on a flat surface. The larger the surface the better.
- Try creating a ‘maze’, where the pens and pencils represent the walls of the halls. The spaces between each pen and pencil should be large enough to accommodate two marbles.
- Place a few obstacles in the maze. A pencil sharpener, a bottle cap, double sided tape – whatever you choose! Remember, the objective is to create a feasible maze that will provide just enough of a challenge for a marble passing through.
- One fun way to create a challenging maze would be to shape pieces of clay into obstacles around your maze. Some players even create small tunnels with clay to increase the challenge.
- To start the game, the first player rolls their marble into the entrance of the maze.
- The next player then takes their turn, trying to avoid the first player’s marble.
- The objective is to make it to the end of the maze first.
- Players need to avoid disrupting the walls of the maze.
- Moving any of the pens or pencils that form the maze will result to a default, and will call for the player to move their marble back to the beginning of the maze.
- The beauty of Booby Trap is that you can design the maze however you want! The more complex your maze, the more booby traps you put, the bigger the challenge and the more exciting it becomes!
Test your frustration tolerance and your capability to precisely control a small glass ball with this fun and hair raising game perfect for two or more players. Make sure you’ve got a big enough space and lots of room to move around to properly execute your next move!
How to Play:
- Gather all of your marbles together. Designate one color to each player. For instance, player one gets the red marbles, player two gets blue, and so on.
- Draw a circle where all of the marbles will be placed. All of the marbles in play need to be evenly spaced. Try to allow at least an inch of space between each sphere, creating a ‘marble grid’ in your play area.
- Make sure that the colors of the marbles are placed as randomly as possible.
- The objective of each player is to collect all of the marbles that are their color.
- To collect a marble, players need to use their play marble and hit all of the same colored marbles in the play area.
- A player can enter the play area from any angle, but can only hit marbles that are the same color.
- If the player hits a similar colored marble which consequently rolls and hits another marble of the same color, then he collects both those marbles.
- If the player hits a marble of a different color, he must:
- Return a previously collected marble if he already has one
- Skip a turn if he has yet to collect other marbles
- The first player to collect all marbles of the same color is the winner.
Add a bit of mental exercise to your marble game by trying out What Decade? This fun game combines trivia and marble rolling skills to give you one seriously challenging experience that’s perfect for parties and small get togethers. Plus, it’s fairly simple to set-up, calling for nothing more than a piece of chalk and a few marbles.
How to Play:
- Draw a large circle at least 2 feet in diameter across the floor with a piece of chalk.
- Inside the biggest circle, draw a smaller circle at least 18 inches in diameter. Inside that, draw another slightly smaller circle at least 12 inches in diameter. And finally, draw the smallest circle inside of it at 6 inches in diameter.
- Each of these circles will represent a decade. The innermost circle and the space inside it is 2010 onwards. The 12 inch circle and the space inside it represents 2000 to 2009. The 18 inch circle and the space inside it represents 1990 to 1999. And finally, the outermost circle represents 1980 to 1989.
- The game master has a list of questions that players need to answer by deciding on what decade best fits the question. For instance, the game master might ask, ‘What year was the first smart phone released?’
- Players make their guesses by rolling their marble into the play area and landing within a designated decade.
- It doesn’t matter what the players say – their answers will be where their marbles fall.
- Switch up the mechanics, change the decades, or replace your question theme all together! This fun game format can be extensively changed and adjusted to meet your unique preferences for fun and festivities!
Off the Wall
When the day gets boring and there’s nothing to do, then you might want to consider playing Off the Wall. Perfect for those days when you might feel like you just want a low intensity activity to keep your hands preoccupied, Off the Wall doesn’t call for much – just an empty cup, a marble, and a wall to bounce things off of.
How to Play:
- Find a wall with an empty space in front of it. Make sure there aren’t any breakables near the area! You don’t want to break any decor while you’re playing.
- Place your cup on the floor in front of the wall.
- Your objective is to bounce your marble off of the wall to land inside the cup.
- While it might seem simple, the physics of a marble can be hard to master!
- Move the cup around to change the challenge.
- The farther from the wall the cup is positioned, the stronger you might have to bounce your marble.
- Alternatively, you can also try to bounce your marble off the floor so that it hits the wall and bounces back to your cup.
- Try different styles and trick shots to challenge your marble bouncing techniques.
- If you’re playing with a friend or two, take turns to challenge each others’ skills.
Even with their relatively simple design and shape, marbles can be loads of fun. So before you throw that big marble collection out, take the time to consider these unique games! Share your marbles with the kids and give them a break from the TV and internet so they can enjoy games the same way you used to.
Take a trip down memory lane and remember those carefree times when you would play with marbles endlessly by trying out these unique takes on some of the most common marble games we all used to love!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.