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Frugal Family Fun – Marble Mania

Frugal Family Fun!

Frugal Fun Marble Mania

This is the first edition of our new series, Frugal Family Fun.

Throughout this series, my boys and I will select a theme and try out relevant activities. We will offer many different ideas to get you started on having more frugal family fun that youc an do on the weekend (or whenever you’d like)!

Choose a few of these ideas, and you can have a lot of family fun, for very little money out of pocket (if any at all). Most activities require minimal preparation and only basic items. At the end, there are extra activities that are a bit more involved, in case the kids want to keep exploring the theme.

Frugal Family Fun – Marble Mania

This weekend’s activities require marbles, which can be found at your local dollar store, and a bit of imagination.

Full of Hot Air

One person stands at each end of a table. Try to blow a marble off your opponent’s edge of the table – and don’t use your hands! If it rolls off their end, you score a point.

Marble Blowing

Games with MArbles

Have You Lost Your Marbles?

One person hides a set amount of marbles. Everyone tries to find them. Whoever finds the most, hides them the next time. Although this was the most basic game, it quickly became a favourite. The boys enjoyed giving each other clues if the marbles were hidden so well that the others couldn’t find them.


Guess how many marbles are in a jar – winner gets a prize (maybe a marble-themed prize?).

Tasty Treat (Marble Cake Mix)

All parties around here must involve food. It’s a non-negotiable. We took an official vote to choose our snack for this frugal family fun project. Marble cake beat out marble cheese — by a landslide. Since we did not have a marble cake mix on hand, we made vanilla cupcakes and then swirled in melted chocolate chips. Yummy!

Marble Cake Mix

Marble Cupcakes

Marble Games

Play any marble games that you own (or can borrow from friends): Aggravation, Kerplunk, Hungry Hungry Hippos or Rebound.

Marble Run Sets

Quadrilla (I bought the boys this set for Christmas from Kijiji. It has quality, solid wood pieces.)

Marble Run

Frugal Marbles Games

Playing with Marbles

Discovery toys are great, too (I got ours very reduced by hosting a Discovery Toys home party years ago).

Frugal Marble Run

DIY Marble Runs

Use paper towel tubes for tunnels and flat objects for ramps. Try building different marble runs. Have races to see whose marble goes the fastest.

Here’s a simple marble run built with popsicle sticks. For more inspiration, look up “marble runs” on YouTube or Pinterest.

Ayden built this one with our magnet set on an angled white board. See the marble in action?

Magnet Marble Run

The Good Old Days (String)

Play like children used to play on the playground. I recommend Joe Marbles for easy marble games and basic terminology.

Marble Toss (Muffin Tin)

Assign points to each section of the muffin tin. Take turns standing at a distance and tossing the marbles into the tin. Lowest score does the dishes that evening!

Once Upon a Time

Write a story as a family, about how marbles might have been created. Be as silly as you want. The first person says one sentence and then the next person continues the story and so on. Then look up the true history of marbles.

More Advanced Frugal Marble Activities

Marble Art (cookie sheet, paper, paint)

Place a white sheet of paper on a cookie sheet or other pan with taller sides. Place several drops of paint (different colours) on the paper. Then, place a few marbles in the pan, roll them around and see what designs you can make.

DIY Marble Run (wrapping paper tubes, magnets, paint)

This takes a bit more effort, but there is value in creating the tubes, and experimenting with the set up. Build on a magnetic white board, or the refrigerator. Here’s a great example.

Homemade Marble Tubes

Liam used his marble run to attack unsuspecting Lego guys.


Lego Win

We started our marble fun last Friday and the kids kept coming back to it throughout the weekend. I love that the television was hardly on, and the boys did what children were meant to do — use their imaginations.

I hope this first edition of Frugal Family Fun was inspiring for you. Come back next Friday to see how my boys and I had fun with marshmallows!


  1. Dianne

    Great article! Thank you!

  2. Lori Moritz

    I love the marble maze bowling!
    We use pool noodles and a big bag of dollar store marbles. I give them different containers (plastic, metal, wood, glass. they love the different sounds they get.. They’ll sit up in my sons room and drop marbles through the noodles for an hour. My clean up trick is that, in our old house, all the dropped marbles eventually roll to one corner!

    • Karen

      Great idea for an activity Lori. It always amazes me how kids love to repeat the most simple activities. I love the ones where they amuse themselves for a while.

  3. sally

    I was wondering about small children and swallowing marbles. Should this frugal activity be promoted?

    • Kay

      If you’re worried about that, then don’t have your small children play with them. Keep the activities for older children.

      • Karen

        Great point Kay. Parents definitely need to use their judgement when it comes to keeping our kids safe. I do have a baby as well, so we do some “big boy” activities when he is tucked in his high chair safely.

  4. Sarah

    Fun ideas!! Thank you!! The marble painting is always (messy) fun!! Looks like you made some fun family memories

    • Karen

      Thanks Sarah. I am trying to let the kids do messy crafts more often.

  5. Stamatia

    Great job of integrating the marble theme into so many different activities. You’re making memories for your kids!

    • Karen

      Thanks Stamatia. I am quite addicted to themes to be honest. You are right about making memories. The boys will say “Remember when we played with marbles all weekend…”
      Plus – once I declare it a theme night I am accountable to have some fun. No laundry or puttering that I usually do.

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