Today we are going to create a simple DIY marble maze game using playdough “snakes” and a box lid. This is a great way to introduce kids to design and problem solving and a fun way to develop fine and gross motor skills.
Marble mazes are one of the projects I like to do in our after school STEAM program at the beginning of the year as a way to introduce kids to design through play. Kids love to make and play with their own toys and this DIY marble maze is easy for kids of all ages to create and enjoy.
This post contains affiliate links.
I originally created this project for my book STEAM Play & Learn and the project included in the book uses 3 only materials: a box lid, playdough, and a marble. More recently I also started including paper straws in the project as another way to add color and lines. You are welcome to use them too!
DIY Marble Maze Materials
- Box Lid (shoebox, small pizza box, or file box)
- Playdough** (homemade or purchased)
- Paper Straws (optional)
- Glue Gun (use for straws only) This low temp one is safe for kids.
*No marble, no problem! Use a large bead OR crumple a small piece of aluminum foil and roll it between your palms to form a ball.
**No playdough? Make your own using our recipe here.
DIY Marble Maze Instructions
Time needed: 20 minutes.
Make your own DIY marble maze toy out of simple materials.
- Make some “snakes”
Take a small chunk of playdough and roll it into a “snake” shape. Repeat this to make a handful of playdough snakes.
- Start designing your maze
Place one snake into a corner area of the box lid. This is the starting point of the maze. Press gently to stick the playdough to the box.
- Keep adding elements
Continue adding sections of playdough to make a complete maze. You can also add balls of dough to make “bumpers.” Optional: Cut straws and press them into the dough or hot glue them in place.
- Make adjustments
As you design your maze, be sure to test your design. This is part of the design process. If your marble cannot fit through a space or if the playdough walls are too short make adjustments to improve your maze!
When the maze is complete, gently tilt the box back and forth to move the marble through the maze. Ask a friend, parent, or sibling to try it out!
Let’s Talk STEAM
Engineers and designers are people who use science, math and other information to solve a problem. They use a set of steps called the design process to solve the problem at hand. An important step in the design process is testing and changing things that don’t work.
When you design the marble maze you will need to test out the different locations of the playdough walls and bumpers to make sure a marble can roll through or be stopped. You also have a chance to design your own maze including the location of the walls, the colors you use and how easy or hard you want the maze to be.
Also think about this project through the lens of a toy designer. Is there a theme to your design? Is the marble a character or is there a mission involved in solving this maze? What would you name your DIY marble maze game? Creating a story or imaginative elements is something toy designers often employ in their product designs.