Teach Through Toys: Marble Run

Teach Through Toys: Marble Run

Age Level: Preschool, early elementary, upper elementary
Description: There are many marble runs on the market. I have the Quercetti transparent marble run. I have had it for four years, and some pieces have started to break, but I put a lot of wear and tear on toys because I travel with them in my shoulder bag. With a marble run, kids put together tubes, chutes, spinning wheels, and more to send marbles through.
Modifications: What I love about this toy is that you can easily modify it for the needs of your students. I use this with my lowest functioning students who are nonverbal, because they are motivated to mand (or request) items/actions such as marble, track, or push. I also work with them on tracking the progress of the ball, grasping the ball with their finger and thumb, and playing appropriately with the toy for 1-5 minutes. It’s a good toy for working on beginning manding, as well. You can keep the ball out of sight, and have the student request it when they see it is missing. A toy like this is especially important for me, because I can use it to work on these low-level skills, but it is still age appropriate for some of my older students.  I use this with my highest functioning students to work on building complicated structures, following directions, and describing what just happened.
Skills: Manding (asking for items/actions), gross motor skills, understanding basic cause and effect, prepositions
Pros: For many of my students who are very low functioning, this is one of the few toys that is consistently motivating. It’s nice that you can change the way the structure looks each time you build it. It is also a great toy because it is easy to play with appropriately, compared to some toys that students with autism or other learning difficulties may play with in inappropriate or unusual ways.
Cons: For some students, it is difficult to build the structure since the pieces have to be fitted in a specific way. I have played with marble runs made by other companies, and some of them are difficult to take apart if the student wants to make a change. While this is a game that students can almost always play with appropriately independently, the marbles pose a choking hazard so students should always have supervision.
Cost: Varies based on what model you get. Should I buy this? A resounding yes. There are so many different marble runs to choose from and this is a toy that is always a big hit. There are some nice wooden marble runs that are a bit more expensive, and now there are also marble runs whose moving parts can be attached to the wall. I cannot stress enough how great a toy this has been for my early learners with autism, but it has also been motivating for my upper elementary students who are higher functioning.
ABLLS: A4, A5, A8, C6, F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F8, F9, G1, K5
VB-MAPP: Mand 2, Mand 3, VP-MTS 1, VP-MTS 2, Play 1, Play 5, Mand 6, Mand 7, Mand 8

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