Marble Runs: Building Innovation Skills in Pre-K 4

Missy Melba, Pre-K 4 Lead Teacher
In my Pre-K 4 class recently, some boys began rolling cylinder blocks under tunnels in the block center and it reminded me of marble runs. The following day, I asked three students if they would like to create a marble run for the class. All three were excited to undertake the project.
Before we started, we looked at pictures online to see what kind of materials we would need. We settled on Popsicle sticks and a box cover. The boys quickly determined that we should use the bigger craft Popsicle sticks because the marble could roll over the skinnier sticks.
I helped the students glue down the sticks sideways using a hot glue gun. As we worked another student came over and joined in. I truly felt like I was more of a facilitator in this project as the students did most of the work. 
The students discussed and debated where all the sticks should be placed and why. They were asking questions and answering them as well.  In addition to problem-solving, they were using the other skills of innovation on this project including spatial reasoning, creativity, and teamwork.
The children made the decisions and truly had ownership of this project. When they were finished with the project, they presented their marble run to their classmates.
"We made a marble maze,” Pre-K 4 student Leo said to his classmates during the presentation. "You shake it to get it to the end,” his classmate Kason added.
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Located In Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Country Day School is a private school for Pre-K 3 through 6th grade. JCDS prepares students for a healthy and productive lifetime of intellectual exploration, character development, and social responsibility.