(Part three in a five part series. . .)
Marble games are a great way to spend quality time with your child. The games are easy to set up, and easy to play. Unlike passive activities like television—which requires no skill, or video games—which have predetermined outcomes, marble activities invite your child’s active participation in creating unique circumstances and outcomes. Best of all, marble play is stress free and easy on the parent.
(Note: shooting a marble consists of twitting it with your index finger. With your palm on the ground, simply hold your index finger back with your thumb, then snap it forward.)
Game 1: This is a classic outdoor marble game that you may remember playing when you were a kid (called ‘potsy’ or ‘potsies’). One of the joys of this game is making the pot (a hole in the ground). Some players like a smooth pot, like a salad bowl. Others prefer a cylindrical hole, like a drinking glass. Either way, make the hole in a dirt area. The objective of the game is to be the first to shoot your marble into the pot. To start, each player takes one marble from their collection and drops it ten feet or so from the pot. Now the players take turns shooting toward the pot. The main rule is this: the person whose marble is furthest from the pot gets to shoot. Does that mean a player could potentially shoot several times in a row? Yes, as long as that player’s marble is furthest from the pot. Good strategy: don’t try to shoot your marble into the pot until you’re sure you can make it. Just inch it along. Poor strategy: shoot for the pot from too far away and miss by a little bit. This will allow your opponent to keep shooting until her marble is close enough to make an easy shot. The first person to shoot their marble into the pot wins the other players’ marbles in that round, and a new round starts. (This game can be played by more than two people.)
Game 2: Take the top off a shoe box and place the box upside down on the floor. Draw a door on the box. Now cut the door out. Place the shoebox on the floor upside down again. Let your child pick out five marbles for this game. Have her sit a few feet away from the box and shoot the marbles one at a time, trying to get them inside the box. When she’s finished, lift he box and count how many marbles went inside. This game can be played by more than two people. (Advanced: have your child determine how many marbles went inside the box without lifting the box.)
There are many variations on these marble games which you and your child can invent as you go. For example, in the shoebox game, take turns shooting as many marbles as it requires to get three marbles inside the shoebox. The person who uses fewer marbles wins. No matter the variation, your child’s application of strategy and planning will grow with her advancing skills. For your part–you will find no shortage of joy watching your child focus so intensely again and again while executing a particular strategy.
Best of luck!