A blessed Thanksgiving to everyone in the U.S.!
If you’re still undecided on what to buy your children for Christmas, do consider this toy. It’s called Marble Run, or sometimes called Ball Track. If you search for either term, you’ll find a slew of manufacturers offering a toy of the same concept. Many I see are plastic and extremely colorful, but the one we love, although still colorful, is made from wood.
We bought it when we were still living in Malaysia, so I don’t know what the brand is. But then I stopped by The Kavanaugh Report today, and lo and behold, Nicole is hosting a giveaway of a beautiful wooden set by HABA, similar to ours! I can’t participate because I’m not a U.S. resident, but this is such a brilliant and timeless toy that I just had to write a review of ours for you.
My oldest son M (8) has been playing with this wooden marble run on and off since he was 4 years old. Even his neighborhood friends who come over to play really enjoy it. When M was younger, it was usually up to the adults to show him the various ways to design a track. But as he grows older, he is surprising me with more and more creative and sophisticated designs. In fact, some of the ideas that you see here are M’s and not mine!
I recently introduced this to Z (2.5) and it was an instant hit. As expected, he doesn’t yet know how to build them so he needs me to participate. He’s seen his big brother play it before so he knows what to do and expect, and it’s so peaceful to just watch him wait patiently as I slowly and quietly build it for him.
Then when I declare it’s ready for action, Z perks up and starts working those fine motor skills — the pincer grip — gripping each marble with 3 fingers and dropping them in the highest slot. And his eyes start tracking each marble as it rolls and rolls, down until it arrives in a little bowl at the end.
He even tries to grab more marbles in one hand so that he can drop the marbles closer to each other consecutively. He must have seen somebody do it, and I’m ok with it because these are all hand and finger muscle agility exercises.
Here’s why we like the wooden version:
- They don’t break when kids accidentally step on them.
- They are “abusable” (not that you’d want your kids to abuse them). The more abused the wooden blocks are, the more beautiful they seemingly become. Family heirloom, seriously.
- They are so beautiful to look at!
- It helps the child develop control of movement. The wooden blocks don’t have pre-set grooves that make the parts join or stay together easily. Sure they get frustrated in the beginning. But then they see how slowly and carefully mommy/daddy/older siblings adjust the pieces so the marbles will continue falling into the corresponding slots, or so the tracks don’t fall from their platforms. Any rough movements will cause everything to come tumbling down. And this is how they will come to learn to be gentle and careful with their things, to refine their movements.
- Since the pieces don’t have specific joints to go in, it’s a very freeform toy. This allows for unbridled creativity, as evidenced by how M continuously surprises me with new track designs.
- Helps children develop problem solving skills. With our set, each track has a hole for the marble to fall in, so if the hole isn’t aligned to the next hole, the marble gets stuck. The kids have to figure out where the mis-alignment is and fix it carefully.
- Higher resale value. I’m sorry for this, but I have a financial and marketing background so I do think about stuff like this. Seriously, if it’s wooden, even if it’s dinged and dented, it still holds a higher resale value compared to plastic.
So hurry on over to The Kavanaugh Report‘s giveaway for a chance to win the HABA version of this toy!
* Please be aware that our set is not HABA brand, in fact I have no idea what brand it is, so it does not look the same as what’s offered on the giveaway.
** Please also be aware that I’m not being compensated in any form for recommending this toy nor for directing you to the giveaway. I’m simply doing this because I truly believe in the benefits of this toy, and if there’s a free set to be won, why not try your luck? 🙂 I’m all about sharing the love!
A very blessed Thanksgiving to everyone in the United States!
God bless and pea(ce) to all,