Possible Classroom Concepts: Mathematics – Geometry (3D Shapes, Circumference, Diameter), Science – Objects (Translucent, Opaque, Shadows), STEM, Social Studies – History, Geography, Industrial Revolution, Inventors, Language Arts – Read to Perform a Task, Literature, Vocabulary, Slang, Expressions
Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Norman Rockwell, Glennray Tudor, Elements of Art – Forms (Shading, Cast Shadows), Texture (Visual), Medium – Drawing, Painting
Are you searching for some ways to reduce your student’s/children’s screen time on electronic devices? The answer may come from a simple marble. I can think of a whole week’s worth of activities to investigate and enjoy the marble.
Let’s start by looking at the marble itself. A marble can be described in both mathematical and scientific terms. A marble is a sphere. In geometry class, it would be called a 3D shape. In art class, it would be called a form. Our modern day marbles are made of glass, but years ago they were made of clay, or rocks (agate and alabaster). Clay and stone marbles are opaque and glass marbles can be translucent or opaque. Marbles come in may shapes and sizes. Look here to see some different varieties.
Marbles can be used in the science class another way, as part of a STEM unit. How about building a marble maze? Simple mazes can be constructed from everyday items such as paper plates, paper strips and paper rolls. A primary activity can be found here. You can find an intermediate level project here. For more marble maze ideas, go to my Pinterest page.
When looking into the history of marbles, we can touch on a bit of social studies. Let’s begin with history. No one knows where marbles originated. Marbles have been found in Egyptian tombs and in Pompeii, so they have been around for a very long time. Originally, they were handmade individually from clay, stone and glass. During the Industrial Revolution, two inventors made mass production of marbles possible. In 1884, Sam Dyke of Akron, Ohio invented a machine that could produce 6 clay marbles at a time. His factory hired 350 people and could make one million marbles a day. Other marble making companies sprang up in Akron and the city became the “Marble Capital of the World”. Then in 1915, M.F. Christensen, also from Akron, invented a machine that could mass produce glass marbles. You can see a marble making machine in action here. Marbles were a very popular pastime until WWII, when resources were in short supply. There was a small resurgence for the marble in the 1970s, but it never regained its former popularity.
Let’s move on to some Language Arts correlations. You might begin with a reading to perform a task activity. Have students read the steps to playing a marble game found at this website and play the game. You could also throw in some math skills here determining how long the string needs to be to create a circle with a diameter of 36″. (pi / π or 3.14 x 36″ = 113.04″) If you’re looking for some marble themed literature, check out these books: The Marble Maker by Sacha Cotter and Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes (Video read aloud found here.) Did you know that marbles have a vocabulary and slang all their own? Here are some examples: mib – marble, mibster – marble player, aggie – agate marble, alley – alabaster marble, shooter/taw – larger marbles used to hit smaller ones, mibs/ducks – smaller marbles, Bumblebees – yellow striped marbles, Jaspers – Chinese blue ceramic marbles, cat eye – a marble with a swirl of color in the middle, knuckle down – the hand position to shoot a marble (one knuckle is touching the ground), fudging – crossing the line while shooting (against the rules), dead duck – marble in an easy shot, for keeps – a marble won when a player keeps the marbles he wins. Do we use any of these expressions today? Using their newly learned vocabulary, ask your students if they can translate the following sentence found in an excellent article at mentalfloss.com: If you’re the type of mibster that has knuckled down with a taw and shot for an aggie duck, then you already know quite a bit about mibs.
Artists have also been inspired by marbles. Marbles are included as one of the 80 games depicted in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1560 “Children’s Games”, as seen above along with a close up. Norman Rockwell’s “Marble Champion” graced the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1939. Photographic realist painter, Glennray Tudor paints marbles sitting on black and white comics. It just so happens that this entire post was inspired by Vlogger, Cassie Stephen’s, Marble themed Tudor lesson found here. Thank you Cassie! As an art teacher, I love her innovative way of teaching shading of a sphere and creating a cast shadow. Science teacher’s can use this lesson in a shadow unit and while talking more about the properties of a translucent object.
Marbles can also be used as an art tool. The Artful Parent shows oh so many cool ways to paint with marbles here.
Did I call this post “A Simple Marble”? After reading this post, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is nothing simple about a little ole marble. Do you have any more marble ideas? I’d love to hear about them. Simply click on the post’s title, scroll down to the bottom and add your comment.
Hope you stop by again real soon!