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The 6 Best Marble Runs

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For a fun and stimulating toy that engages your child in STEM skills, a marble run is a must. The best marble runs are age-appropriate in their complexity and designed with safety in mind— and you’ll find them in both affordable or hand-me-down-worthy kits.

Materials

Plastic marble runs are widely available and relatively affordable, and they come with colorful pieces that are sometimes translucent for an added thrill as marbles go through ramps and tubes. Wooden marble runs have especially durable pieces with an heirloom quality that can be passed down from kid to kid — and the weight of the pieces can form steadier builds. Wooden run pieces interlock to form ramps, though not usually tubes or loop-de-loop spirals. Others feature magnetic track pieces that allow kids to build a more open-ended track on any magnetic surface.

Track Design & Add-Ons

Part of the fun of a marble run set is building the track, and most kits come with dozens of pieces, including base attachments and fun action pieces, like wheels, windmills, or see-saws that kids will love. For a marble run pick that will sustain your child’s interest for longer and can even grow with them, look for one that offers expansion packs or booster sets with additional tracks, slides, or unique shapes to foster their creativity and encourage them to find new ways to play.

Age & Safety

The traditional glass marbles on more complex sets are designed for older kids about age 4 and up. However, there are marble runs designed for use even by toddlers since they use larger balls. Just be sure to check the manufacturer’s age recommendation, which I’ve highlighted for each pick below. With so many small pieces in these toy sets, you’ll be reassured to know the toys below meet safety standards set under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). That said, these toys should always be played with under adult supervision.

With all this in mind, here are the best marble runs to add to your kid’s toy collection. Each one is highly rated on Amazon.

1. A Fan-Favorite Marble Run That Makes A Great Starter Set

  • Age: 4 years and up

This marble run is a much-loved set with a 4.7-star rating and over 6,000 reviews on Amazon. With 85 plastic, translucent pieces in 19 styles, including tubes, fun squiggly shapes, arches, spinning wheels, and ladders, this set is bound to bring hours of entertainment to your kiddo.

The kit includes eight bases for stability when building the run, and the corresponding smartphone app offers step-by-step guides for getting started with different run formations. Sixty-five marbles are included with the set, and it’s compatible with the brand’s other sets, including booster sets, so you can build onto the run over time.

A helpful review: “This is the best money I have ever spent on a toy! My 4 and 6 year old love this! They spent the first three days we had it building different runs. The pieces fit together nicely. We built it on carpet and had no issues. I also love that I can see their brains working and growing as they play with this!”

2. An Heirloom-Worthy Wooden Marble Run

  • Age: 4 years and up

This beautiful wooden marble run is made of heirloom-quality birch and rubberwood designed for durability. The FSC-certified wood is also notable for its sustainability, and the brand’s finishes on colorful wooden pieces are nontoxic.

In this highly rated kit you’ll find 134 pieces, including twisting funnels, a see-saw, and spirals. The inherent weight of wooden pieces also makes for a more stable run, which you’ll appreciate if your kid has ever gotten upset about a toy falling apart. It’s no wonder this pick is a recipient of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award. Reviewers report the set comes with 20 to 25 marbles, and they can be stored in the provided drawstring canvas bag. You can expand your set with fun full kits like this one that includes a catcher tray and attachments that allow kids to experiment with even more ways to position marbles.

A helpful review: “My son, who adores puzzles, models and anything that has to do with construction, has long wanted one of these marble runs, so I was thrilled to be able to get this one [..] This is a high quality, HUGE set — my six-year-old built a run almost as tall as him — that really works well for a variety of ages (younger kids can do it with their parents). I'm expecting it will provide hours of educational and entertaining play time. There are ample pieces: straight runs, drops, funnels; all designed with smooth, high quality wood that feels smooth and sturdy in your hand. [...] I really feel like this is an heirloom quality toy with play potential limited only to a child's imagination. [...]”

3. A Beautiful Wooden Marble Run For Little Ones

  • Age: 18 months and up

Toddlers can get their start with marble runs, too. You just have to choose one that’s safely age- appropriate for them. This wooden marble run for toddlers features a simpler back-and-forth track with eight large wooden balls to send down it.

The colorful balls and shapes are finished in nontoxic paint. Their 1.75-inch size won’t pose a choking hazard like traditional marbles and is easier for small hands to hold. Unlike other marble runs where half the fun is putting together the track, this one comes fully assembled for younger kids.

A helpful review: “Very sturdy and the grandkids love it! Keeps them entertained for long periods of time.”

4. This Glow-In-The-Dark Marble Run Kit

  • Age: 8 years and up

Want to totally surprise your kid? This marble run glows in the dark, adding an extra thrill to the 80-piece set with squiggles, wheels, arches, and more. This is a favorite for sure with a 4.8-star rating and over 6,000 reviews.

The plastic pieces also come with five bases and 15 marbles that can be quickly recharged for their glow-in-the-dark effect using a provided UV light. When not playing, everything can be stored in a storage bag and marble pouch. A guide included with the marble run offers lessons on motion and aerodynamics that can be played out using the toy, and it will spark your kid’s curiosity with marble run experiments. This pick is also available in medium or large sizes, and you can add on more glowing marbles. An expansion pack is sold separately for when kids are ready to add 20 additional construction pieces to their creation.

A helpful review: “This is a great marble run. We have another, bigger set, but my kids (6 and 9) love that this one has marbles that glow in the dark. And because the pieces in the set are translucent you can see the marbles moving through them in the dark. The kids get a kick out of the effect because it seems like the marbles are floating through the air when the lights are off. There were also a couple of unique pieces in this set that we didn’t have before, most notably the splitter piece which allows the track to go in two different directions and the kids like seeing which way the marble will go each time. I like that the set is sturdy and holds together well. Saves a lot of frustration when the kids are building their runs!”

5. This Marble Run For Toddlers That Connects to LEGO DUPLO Blocks

  • Age: 3 years and up

Here’s another toddler-friendly marble run that’s complex enough to entertain preschoolers, too. The plastic 110-piece set includes fun and colorful pieces, like a see-saw, an elephant, a swing, a slow slide, and building blocks. But what really sets this marble run apart is its design that’s compatible with another toddler favorite: LEGO DUPLO blocks. It’s another highly rated pick with over 1,000 reviews. A similar waterwheel piano marble run is also available if your little one can’t get enough of this STEM toy.

A helpful review: “Very entertaining and educational toy for kids of all ages. I bought it for my 3 year old who likes to play with Lego Duplo, she enjoys mixing and building it with her own Duplo sets cause it’s completely compatible. I would say the quality is as good as Duplo. My older kids are building all kinds of different marble runs and it’s so much fun. My kiddos not really following the instructions, they’re preferring to build according to their imagination.”

6. An Affordable Magnetic Marble Run For Open-Ended Play

  • Age: 5 years and up

For a different way to play, this magnetic marble run challenges kids to get creative with building a more open-ended run by following the guidelines on 10 activity cards and adhering these foam pieces to magnetic surfaces, like a refrigerator, a magnetic whiteboard, or even a garage door. Since arranging these pieces in a way to get the marble to run on the track requires more problem-solving skills, this set can engage your child in a new and exciting way relative to other marble runs with connecting pieces.

This set includes 14 magnetic foam pieces, and four marbles. Since this run’s pieces are made of foam, they’re not as durable as wooden options, but their lightweight design makes them conveniently portable as an unexpected travel toy, too.

A helpful review: "I purchased this for my 5yo son. [...] He and my 8yo daughter, and 6yo niece all had the best time setting up different arrangements on the spare refrigerator over Christmas break. [...] They are relatively lightweight, so you can hang them on the wall with command strips, then you can have a magnetic play station set up in an area of your home with less traffic than the kitchen."