I sort of turned into that kid the other day when we built a marble run from scratch. When I say scratch, I actually mean bark. On a recent stroll in the woods, we came across a whole bunch of tree bark, big fat chunks of it. It was all gnarly and gnawed up by bark creatures. They'd created entire tapestries within the wood. It was utterly beautiful. Not unlike Grayson Perry's The Vanity of Small Differences, just fewer pop culture references.
The kids went about sourcing the largest pieces they could find scattered about the forest floor and piled them up. At that point we had no idea what it would be useful for, we just knew it was too brilliant to leave behind. Once back at the house we played around with it, turned it upside down, placed one piece into another and then realised it could become a bonafide marble run.
The kids created tracks that led down the sides of trees, down stairs, down chairs. Then we realised we didn't have any marbles. Bummer. So we sat on our hands for a bit. Pondered. But then Bobby shouted, "Quick! Get the playdough!"
"We'll make our own marbles." He said. Atta boy. He'd outdone me in the spirit of creative action. Why hadn't I thought of that?
I'm not sure what was best... looking at the intricate patterns in the wood, making therapeutic round balls in different colours, letting them roll down the tracks. All of it was ace and it definitely beat going to ToysRUs. But let's face it, it wasn't about me. It was about the kids. But am pretty sure they had fun too though. Check it out:
What you need:
- Bark from a tree
Top tip: If you lay each successive piece of bark under the last, not over, you won't create a lip where the marble can get stuck.
Top quote: "The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself." William Blake