Children love to build things and there are more toys out there than ever before, outside of the ever popular Lego and Knex. If you remember Marble Run from the 80s, you’ll want to try Gravitrax and get your children into it.
I was introduced to Gravitrax 2 years ago at Blog On conference when it was first being released in the UK. Then N got the chance to play with it at Big Feastival, where he spent 1 ½ hours out of the sun creating complex tracks. He loved it so much he kept going on about it being top of his present ideas for Christmas. He was lucky enough to get a starter set, additional add on set, and a hoop the hoop extra set. He’s had a great time playing with it, as well as his cousin enjoying experimenting with it.
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As the name suggests, Gravitrax is involves making tracks to run marbles down and along, purely through gravity. A STEM toy, it’s a good introduction for children to understand engineering and problem solving, as well as progressing from basic layouts to more complex ones. The starter sets include different sized tracks, base boards, stacks, marbles, a couple of plastic boards, and a variety of types of linking pieces.
Also included is a booklet with ideas for layouts, so you can copy these and build up your knowledge, or go freestyle. N hasn’t copied any in the booklet, as he much prefers to do his own thing. Adding his cousin’s ideas in meant they were able to challenge each other, get interlocking tracks going and try out lots of new ideas.
We also have the add on box which has more tracks, stacks and pieces meaning you can add more complex levels and tracks. The only thing that was disappointing was that there was no extra base boards in there – it would have been good to have 2 in there.
The biggest challenge was getting the loop to work. It really took some experimenting with different heights and run ups to get the marble to go around the loop. But he was determined and managed it in the end.
What I love about Gravitrax is that everytime you get it out it’s different. And what I see as something obvious in terms of it not working or making it more complex isn’t what N is trying or wants to do. For children it’s a challenge, and they’re learning all the time. Even if it means I have to sit on my hands and stop myself jumping up to fix something or add on what I want.
There’s also plenty of add on options – from zip wires to volcanoes, to trampolines to flip arms. There’s plenty to create different exciting routes.
If you’ve got the room, try using a table to keep the creation from being stood on and knocked over, but it works just as well set up on carpet.
You can buy Gravitrax* online, or on the high street from The Entertainer or Smyths.
Are your children fans of Gravitrax or anything similar?