(Part one in a five part series on marble games for kids. . .)
As you find yourself spending more time indoors with your child during the winter, consider adding marble games to your schedule. Marble games have several advantages:
-They’re stress free
-You can play for hours at a time
-They strengthen your child’s ability to stay focused on one activity
-They invite your child to practice on her own
Almost any toy store carries marbles, and they’re relatively inexpensive. Several dozen should get you started, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a larger collection. They’re fun to look at, especially if you hold a clear one up to the light. If your child shows a strong interest in marble games, consider starting a collection of older marbles from antique stores. Once the collection is started, you can easily add to it on special occasions.
Here are a few games to get you started. Like many game descriptions, playing is usually easier than describing how to play. In the case of marbles, it’s well worth the trouble:
(Note–shooting a marble consists of twitting it with your index finger: hold index finger back with thumb, then snap it forward.)
Game 1: Make a loop with kite string and place it on a carpeted floor or area rug. Each player uses one marble. To start the game, sit on the floor five or six feet from the loop. One player shoots a marble a short distance toward the loop. The other player does the same thing The objective of the game is simple: be the first to shoot your marble into the loop to win the other player’s marble. All the strategy is contained in this one rule: the player who takes a turn is the player whose marble is furthest from the loop. Yes, a player may shoot several times in a row, as long as that player’s marble is still furthest from the loop. Poor strategy: shoot for the loop from too far away and miss by two or three inches. This will allow your opponent to keep shooting until her marble is just a little further than yours from the loop—say four or five inches—then make an easy shot into the loop to win the game. So the idea is to wait until you’re close enough to shoot your marble into the loop. But don’t wait too long or your opponent will strike first! (This game can be played by more than two people.)
Game 2: Take seven marbles each. Sit on the floor two or three feet apart. Arrange your marbles in a line with several inches between each marble. Have your child do the same thing. You should be facing each other with your line of marbles directly in front of you. Shoot a marble toward your child’s line of marbles. If your marble misses her marbles, she adds it to her line. Now she shoots. (Your child may want to roll her marble, which is fine.) If her marble misses your marbles, then you add it to your line. It’s your turn. If her marble hits one or more of your marbles, then she keeps her original shooting marble and adds the prize marble(s) to her line. Now she goes again. If she hits another of your marbles, she keeps her shooting marble and adds the prize marble(s) to her line. She keeps shooting until she misses. Now it’s your turn. Play until one person’s marbles run out. (Hint: if it’s too difficult for either player to win, then play with only three marbles each).
It should come as no surprise to see your child develop a liking for certain marbles, which quickly become favorites. You may even find exotic names popping up: Purple Princess, Silver Star, Green Storm Rider, etc. If you capture one of these during the course of your marble games, you will find your child trying very hard to win it back. Don’t forget to hold the clear ones up to the light! Have fun!