If your kids are like mine, LEGOs are a huge part of their world. Who am I kidding? I’m a big fan and also have a list of sets that I want! My boys make up games, create worlds for their mini-figures, and build fascinating structures with LEGOs. Here’s an idea for making a marble maze game using any brick that you can find.
Have your kids clear the floor of all of the Legos that you step on in the middle of the night. Bring the container of pieces to a central location to work together. Share a picture of a maze and brainstorm ideas for making a custom maze. Hand each child a square building base and a marble. Younger maze makers can use the square base from the LEGO Duplo blocks and a small toy car.
Rather than give any directions, let your kids experiment and explore. It is fascinating to see their techniques and creativity. However, if you have a child who always wants to get things right the first time, it may be helpful to do some guided troubleshooting with beginner maze makers.
Look at the size of the marble that they will be guiding through the maze. Explore the relationship of the marble size to the width of the paths you will need in the maze. Discussing where the maze will begin and end may also provide some structure for this game. Some kids might even want to draw a map of their Lego grid (super easy if you have graph paper on hand) to plan and troubleshoot a detailed path.
My younger son started building a very narrow maze that locked the marble in place. We discussed the issue and he determined the changes needed to create a wider pathway. It’s easy to change a LEGO build.
Add obstacles with mini-figures, wheels, trees, or any other objects from your collection.
When your mazes are set, test them out with marbles. Are any changes in order? Will maze walls that are taller work better? If you add a tunnel, how many bricks will you need to make sure the marble will clear the height? Add a ramp into your maze to get from one section to another and see how this affects the time it takes to run through the maze.
A good maze is complex enough to present some challenge, but not so complicated that it is almost impossible to complete.
Add a little competition to the mix by timing how long it takes each family member to complete a given maze.
When you are ready to step it up, propose a challenge for your children. Challenge them to make a maze using only a certain number of pieces.
Photos courtesy of Beth Levine