At the beginning of this summer, we spent a day at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA. If you’ve never been there, it is such a fun experience with tons of hands on exhibits. One of my daughter’s favorites was a wall with plastic magnetic tubes to create a “marble track” and little balls to test it out on. She spent quite awhile rearranging the tubes to make different tracks and trying them out. As I watched her, I started thinking about how I could make something similar at home, and this idea was born.
I began saving toilet paper and paper towel rolls and waiting for just the right time to create our DIY Magnetic Marble Track. This Saturday was the perfect day! My oldest was away at camp with his youth group and my two younger kids were having a pajama day. My husband was taking a nap and the kids were getting “bored,” so together we created this super fun “boredom buster!”
Check out my daughter’s “Craft Time With Karis” video tutorial (above) to learn how to make these with your own kids. It took some trial and error, but we figured out the best way to keep the tracks up and the best balls to use. Here are a couple of tips:
make sure your magnets are strong enough…we tried some at first that would not hold
use light weight balls: we found my son’s Nerf Rival Bullet Balls to be the perfect balls for this project. Small bouncy balls were a close second. Marbles were too heavy and knocked the tracks right off. Experimenting with different options is part of the fun!
even though we used magnets that were sticky on one side, it is best to hot glue them as well for a stronger hold
For more “Craft Time With Karis” videos click on the following:
Birthday parties are challenging for teen boys. The past couple of years my son Jacob has not wanted a theme or decorations, so we have just had a few friends over for movies and board games. But this year, for his 15th birthday, we decided to do something unique. The idea was sparked by a conversation we had about the youth group I attended as a teen and some of the fun events we got to do. My favorite was called “The Torture Rally,” a 24 hour car rally around our city with clues to solve and challenges, definitely one of the highlights of my teen years. I described it to Jacob as a sort of youth group Amazing Race, and the idea for pulling of a birthday party like this was birthed. We kept the party small and just had one team…so they were essentially competing against themselves, but they had so much fun and it was well worth all the hours of prep that I put in to plan all the clues and challenges.
Here is a list of what we did for Jacob’s AMAZING RACE PARTY!
PULL 50 MARBLES OUT OF A TUB OF ICE WATER USING ONLY YOUR TOES
2. MEMORIZE THIS POEM. FIND THE MAN IN RED ACROSS THE PARK AND RECITE IT PERFECTLY. IF YOU MESS UP, GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN
Spaghetti, spaghetti, all over the place, Up to my elbows – up to my face, Over the carpet and under the chairs, Into the hammock and wound round the stairs, Filling the bathtub and covering the desk, Making the sofa a mad mushy mess. The party is ruined, I’m terribly worried, The guests have all left (unless they’re all buried). I told them, “Bring presents.” I said, “Throw confetti.” I guess they heard wrong ’cause they all threw spaghetti! – Shel Silverstein
3. (set up in someones front yard) MEMORIZE THE ORDER Of THESE TRIBAL PRINTED CARDS. NOW RECREATE THIS EXACTLY IN THE BACKYARD. YOU MAY RETURN AS MANY TIMES AS NECESSARY BUT CANNOT BRING CARDS WITH YOU.
4. (part 1) WEAR CRAZY PARTY HATS AND MARDI GRAS NECKLACES IN PUBLIC (WALK ACROSS THE BRIDGE) (part 2) CHALLENGE…WITH STRING TIED TO YOUR WRISTS AND CONNECTED TO A PARTNER, FIND YOUR WAY APART (it’s actually quite simple but seems very complicated)
5. MAKE MARSHMALLOW SHOOTERS. NOW SHOOT MALLOWS INTO A BUCKET THAT IS HELD ON YOUR TEAMMATES HEAD (MAKE 5 MALLOWS EACH)
6. PLAY A GIANT GAME OF MEMORY: BOARD GAME STYLE (game made out of heavy paper plates, printed boardgame photos, and weighed down with flat marbles)
7. FIND THE PIECES OF THE WOODEN PUZZLE HIDDEN IN THE PLAY STRUCTURE. NOW PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER. (much more challenging than it looks)
8. GO TO BARNES AND NOBLE AND ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS…
HOW MANY BOOKS ARE THERE IN THE BIBLE?
WHAT IS THE TITLE OF A BOOK WRITTEN BY OUR PRESIDENT?
HOW MANY BOOKS ARE IN “THE DIARY OF A WHIMPY KID” SERIES?
NAME 3 “NON-BOOK” ITEMS YOU CAN PURCHASE HERE
FIND AND NAME 2 BOOKS BY THE CHILDREN’S AUTHOR ERIC CARLE
9. GO TO THE MALL. FIND THE PHOTO BOOTH. TAKE A PHOTO WITH YOUR WHOLE TEAM IN THE BOOTH AT THE SAME TIME.
10. USING SIDEWALK CHALK, DRAW AN ACCURATE DIAGRAM OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM, PLACING EACH PLANET IN ORDER STARTING WITH THE SUN
11. DIVE INTO THE POOL AND RETRIEVE THE GOLF BALLS AT THE BOTTOM. EACH HAS A LETTER WRITTEN ON IT. UNSCRAMBLE THE LETTERS TO DECODE THE MESSAGE
FINISH THE NIGHT WITH PIZZA AND CUPCAKES AND OF COURSE AN EPISODE OF THE AMAZING RACE!!!
The Amazing Race Birthday Party lasted for about 5 hours total (the race itself was 4 of those hours which included a “pit stop” for snacks about half way through). Be sure to come prepared with bottles of water to keep everyone hydrated, especially during the summer. For more Amazing Race Birthday Party footage check out this fun video of the highlights from Jacob’s party and you can find more race style party products on Amazon! #CommissionsEarned
For another fun birthday party idea for teen boys, check out my latest blogpost: