Kids at Ella White use marbles to make games

ALPENA – Fifth grade students in Christine Suchey’s class at Ella White School put their imaginations to work over the last week designing games using marbles. The students read the book “The Marble Champ” by Gary Soto, and have been working on learning about steps in a process, so Suchey had them combine what they read and learned, and design their own game using marbles.

“It took the students a little over a week to figure out what they wanted to do for games,” Suchey said. “They had to decide on a game, write the steps in the process of playing the game, and go through them to make sure their steps worked.”

Each game invented was unique to the student, and had different rules for playing.

“The class invited other classes in the school to come into their classroom and play the different games,” Suchey said. “They learned how to work with the younger students and make the games easier for them to play. We had classes from kindergarten through fifth grade come in and they each had an opportunity to play several games.”

Game ideas ranged from skeeball style to bowling with legos and even golf.

Drew Seabase designed a miniature golf game called Volcanic Drop Golf where players started by dropping their marbles into a volcano and playing four different holes of golf with popsicle stick putters.

“To play you have to drop the marble down the volcano into one of four holes, then it bounces off the other marbles and walls toward the hole,” Seabase said. “To win you have to make the marbles in the hole with the least amount of putts. The one with the smallest number of putts for all four holes wins a starburst.”

Ryan Lee designed his marble game with baseball in mind. Lee’s game had multiple holes for the bases and different places in the outfield which were all different point values. To play, students had to role the ball toward the holes with the highest point values and around obstacles by tilting the game base.

“I put pictures of baseball players near the holes to help get the ball in them,” Lee said. “It was really fun making the game. The object is to get a perfect score.”

Suchey said the students have been using the games often and were excited about the project.

“Each one of them is so different,” Suchey said. “The students really have fun with them and are learning the step process at the same time. We’ve been using the games a lot when we have indoor recess because of the weather. They did a great job coming up with different ideas for this project.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.