Are you looking for a low prep but highly engaging Christmas STEM activity for the kids this holiday season? Try making Christmas Marble Runs Whether you use Legos, candy canes or starlight mints a marble run is a lot more than busy work. This Christmas STEM project hits so many essential learning skills while seeming like play. This is the best kind of learning!
Christmas STEM: Festive Marble Maze Ideas
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A do it yourself marble maze can be super simple or crazy intricate; the choice is really up to the maker! Have a discussion with the students about what a maze is and how it works – maybe have them complete some paper mazes so they can see how the pathways work. This is a great way to explore both the math and the physics of how marble runs work.
The Benefits of Building Marble Runs
Hands-On Learning is one of the top benefits of building marble runs. Kids are hands-on designing, building, testing and playing. It’s an active process while still being quiet and contained. This hands-on approach to learning is quite effective for younger students. It allows them to manipulate objects and learn spatial relationships and the physics of how to move a marble through a maze.
Building a maze also helps kids with the important skills of problem solving and critical thinking!
A maze is a puzzle, it requires solving both to build it and navigate it. You must think critically to create a path that ensures the marble can get from start to finish but also add challenges and dead ends for the players. This process encourages problem-solving skills, logical thinking, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Another benefit of building marble runs is that it fosters creativity and imagination. Let the kids loose to test, fail, try something new and discover. The only parameter is that there must be a beginning and an end to the path so the marble can make it all the way through.
Christmas Lego Marble Run
In the Lego mazes my kids made you needed to reach the Christmas tree in the simpler one and you had to find your way through the house to get your pizza and pies in the other. One child built a simple pathway, one built a whole house. They both met the parameters of the lesson but they were vastly different in their construction. This is a great way to scaffold and adjust the project to suit the needs of your kids.
Building a marble maze with LEGOs introduces students to fundamental engineering principles. They learn about balance, stability, and load-bearing as they construct the maze structure. Additionally, they can experiment with different configurations and discover which designs work best, providing a practical understanding of structural engineering.
Lego engineering also works on fine motor skills, as students manipulate small LEGO pieces to construct their mazes, they improve their fine motor skills. This can be especially beneficial for younger elementary students, helping them develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
This is a great project to assign to pairs or teams as well. It builds on the important skills of teamwork and collaboration. Students can collaborate on maze design, construction, and problem-solving. They learn to share ideas and work together to achieve a common goal, fostering important social skills.
Candy Cane Marble Maze
Want an even more festive option. Use candy canes!
All you need for this marble run project is a bunch of candy canes or candy cane ornaments, marbles and some clay or blutak. We built ours in a disposable baking sheet, but you could use a box lid (a lid from a box of printer paper is perfect!) or anything that has an edge on it.
I love making a marble maze with candy canes or candy cane ornaments around the holidays. The cane shape lends itself to perfect pathways and the hooks make fun turns and curves for the marbles to travel through. I like to have the kids use clay or fun tack to position the candy canes because it allows them to be easily repositioned as they work through their design. Constructing a maze with candy canes introduces students to concepts like angles, balance, and gravity. As they arrange the candy canes to form slopes and obstacles, they gain practical insights into physics and geometry. This hands-on approach makes learning science more engaging and memorable.
Christmas Candy Marble Maze
Another fun one is to use mints! The little round mints make for a fun design, their circular shape makes moving the marble easier in some spots and harder in others because it can easily slip around the mint. The challenge of building pathways and openings with something round it is a challenge for the kids and they always seem to love it!
Another fun activity with Christmas Mints is this simple science experiment, which you could do with your marble maze when you are done!
Building marble mazes whether it is with LEGOs and candy canes or mints is an innovative and engaging way to teach through play and exploration. These creative projects promote hands-on learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork. Whether using LEGO bricks for structural engineering or candy canes to explore scientific principles, it’s a win win! By incorporating such activities into the classroom, educators can inspire a love of learning and provide valuable life skills that go far beyond the classroom.
Looking for more fun ideas?
Why not get your more advanced kids to build a tiered marble run game with a festive theme?
Want more Marble Run ideas? We have some fun and easy projects to inspire your marble maze creations.
Need more Christmas STEM? Check out 24 Days of Christmas STEM.