Going down memory lane…do you remember playing marbles in your hey days? Are your allies and opponents still vivid? The endless fun you had, the marbles you won and those you lost, the friends you made, the honing of your trading skills: does any of that ring a bell?
Early in 2015, children that go to my eight year old daughter’s school were caught up in a marble-craze wave that swept over the schools’ break periods for a while. Boys and girls, both junior and beyond junior, across the entire colour spectrum would huddle around marbles, knuckling and flicking their way to victory or defeat. Mind you, these are 21st century children who are into video gaming, TV, e-entertainment and all the things that kids do nowadays to occupy themselves; yet playing marbles, at some point, usurped their screen and e-regulated lives! So, it would only make sense for us to take a closer look at this eons-old, tried and tested, traditional game of marbling to decipher why it is still so relevant to today’s 21st century child!
It is not often nowadays, to find a game which transcends the age barrier, the sex barrier, the race barrier and the class barrier, bringing together children from all walks of life into interactive play. Marbles can be played from toddler years right up to and beyond the teen years; albeit the rules and levels of engagement become more complex with a rise in the age factor. Marbling is a universal game where children interact as they learn to work together as alliances or opponents –abiding by the rules of the game, agreeing to break the rules and making new rules to re-abide by.
Social Intelligence and Gamesmanship
Playing with marbles develops social intelligence which is based on the Machiavellian Intelligence theory and endorsed by developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. As children play marbles amongst each other, they learn to treat all players by the same standards while being sensitive to each others’ needs and propositions such that rules can be evolved to accommodate all the players present. Children are able to come up with and adhere to their own rules of engagement without adult guidance or interference. This versatile approach to play is a needful aspect to develop in children as most of their current play activities are regulated by either adults or screen devices.
Children are able to come up with and adhere to their own rules of engagement without adult guidance or interference.
Gamesmanship is developed as children learn to take turns, to adhere to rules, to change rules, to anticipate, to negotiate, to win or lose with grace, to form alliances and opponents and to value their relationships above their accomplishments.
- Gross motor skills and geometry skills are developed as a player manoeuvres himself to the right position to hit the marble and fine motor skills are developed in the process of eye tracking and in the hand-eye coordination required for knuckling or flicking
- Mathematical skills are developed in: the appreciation of pattern and design on the marble, the appreciation of conservation of numbers, the counting and the sorting
- Trading and negotiation skills are developed especially where the game is played for ‘keepsies’ when the winner gets to keep the marbles.
Marbles are a dangerous to younger toddlers and infants when ingested. Because they are glass or clay in material, they can be hazardous to children when broken or chipped. Marbles also tend to mar solid surfaces and they can easily break windows.
This versatile approach to play is a needful aspect to develop in children as most of their current play activities are regulated by either adults or screen devices.
Having taken you through the pros and cons of playing with marbles, you may now be wondering about how the game is actually played. Though there are several ways to approach marbling some basic guidelines to get you or your child marble-savvy can be found here.
Playing marbles, for an appropriate-aged child, comes with a myriad of benefits –social, physical, psychological and intellectual – such that it really may be worth your child’s while for you to part with a few pennies worth of marbles!