Try Not to Lose Your Marbles

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Try Not to Lose Your Marbles

June 19, 2018

Marbles are those pretty little glass balls that always roll under the couch, never to be seen again. But at the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, NJ this week, marbles star in an exciting game. It all started in 1588, when two men who both loved the same woman played a marbles match to see who would get to marry her. So how do you play? In one kind of game, each player (or team) gets a marble color, and shoots its own marbles into each other to try to knock them into a hole. In this week’s U.S. contest, 2 players go head to head, each with his/her own 13 marbles plus 1 “shooter” marble, which they use to knock their own 13 marbles out of the 10-foot circle. Let’s just hope someone’s catching them before they roll under the couch.

Wee ones: How many marbles can you count in the picture?

Little kids: If you’ve knocked your first 4 of your marbles out of the circle, what numbers are the next 3 marbles?  Bonus: If you have 13 “target” marbles plus your shooter marble, how many do you have in total?

Big kids: The 13 marbles start lined up in an X. How many marbles are lined up along 1 long stick of the X?  Bonus: If the red team sinks 1 marble, then the blue team sinks 2 marbles, then the green team sinks 1, then red sinks 1 to repeat, blue sinks 2…what color should the 19th marble be to keep the pattern?














Wee ones: 5 marbles.

Little kids: 5, 6, 7.  Bonus: 14 marbles.

Big kids: 7 marbles: 3 in each “arm” of the X, plus the center marble.  Bonus: Blue, since it’s the 3rd marble in that set of 4 starting on 17.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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