- String at least 6 feet in length
- Lots of marbles
- One large marble for every player
- At least 2 people to play
Recipe for Fun!
A few generations ago, marbles were THE toy to collect and THE game to play! You may have only seen kids play marbles in movies, but marbles aren’t just the original mini collectibles, they are also an easy game for kids to play - and portable enough to take to a friend’s house or to their grandparents’ house for an afternoon of old-fashioned play.
Tips for playing with marbles: The more marbles you start with the longer the game of marbles will be. You will also need one shooter marble for every player. You can identify a shooter marble because it is larger than the other marbles in the set. To make the game harder, use a longer string for a larger circle. A smaller string will result in an easier, faster game of marbles. As kids get better at marbles, arrange them in fun patterns like zig-zags and circles at the beginning of the game.
How to Play a Game of Marbles:
- Lay the string out in a circle on the ground to form a ring.
- Scatter the marbles within the boundaries of the ring.
- The goal is to score points by knocking marbles outside of the ring using your shooter marble.
- Let the youngest player go first.
- The first shot is taken from outside the ring.
- The shooter cradles the marble in the crook of their index finger and flicks it toward the marbles inside the ring.
- If a player knocks a marble outside of the ring, they score a point.
- When a player successfully knocks another marble out of the ring, they continue taking turns until they miss.
- If a shooter remains inside the ring, the shooter must take their next shot from its position.
- If a shooter goes outside the ring, the shooter can position their marble anywhere outside the circle on their next turn.
- The game is over when all marbles have been knocked out of the ring.
- The winner holds the highest number of points because they knocked the most marbles out of the ring.
What does it mean to play marbles “for keeps”? One of the fun ways to add another layer of competition to a game of marbles is to play for keeps. Playing marbles for keeps means that when one player knocks another player’s marbles out of the circle, those marbles become their property. With younger children and less experienced players, playing for keeps can lead to frustration and disagreements. So we do not recommend “playing for keeps”.
What kids learn from a game of marbles: Marbles is actually a game of geometry, and this game packs many math skills into play. The game also encourages kids to think strategically and put fine motor skills to work when they flick their shooter with just enough inertia to knock competitors out of the ring.
Safety note: Keep marbles out of the reach of young children, especially children under 3 who may still put objects in their mouths.