Type/Purpose: Mixer

Materials: Marbles of varying sizes (look online if you can’t find these locally)

Set-Up: Section off a “safe zone,” be it a table, or a couple of chairs/cones forming an area.


  • Give each player a marble, and have them immediately close their hand over it. Tell participants that they are free to go to the safe zone when they are confident they have the largest possible marble.
  • If they want to trade, however, they may walk up to another player, say “swap”, and extend their closed fist. With the other hand, they should extend an open palm. The other player has to oblige, and coordinate their hands with their partner, opening their palm under the fist, and placing their fist over the open palm. On the count of 3, players swap marbles, quickly closing their fists over the marbles, and continuing, until they feel they can go to the safe zone.
  • Continue play until everyone is in the safe zone, or until most of the players are.

Teachable Moments:

  • What was the experience of swapping marbles like?
  • How did you rationalize taking a risk to swap?
  • What did it take for you to decide to enter the safe zone?
  • What does taking a risk look like in life?
  • How does transitioning to High School or College compare/contrast with this activity?

Extra Ideas:

  • If time or resources dissuade you from using marbles, consider using three or four decks of playing cards. Only use 4’s through 8’s, and on each of the cards, rank them. Gather all the fours and number them 1 – 12, etc. Tell players that if they swap the same card as another, the higher the written number, the higher the value (so a 4 with a 10 on it beats a 4 with a 3 on it, etc.) Continue play in a similar fashion.
  • After play, have players arrange themselves in order of smallest marble to largest. Then have them get into groups by color, or pattern, or size, etc.
  • Get paper towel tubes, magnets, and glue. Cut the tubes in sections length and width wise, and create “pipelines” for the marbles to travel. Hang magnet glued tubes on a fridge or other magnetic surface, to have an activity that will remain in your youth room for a while.
  • Have a marble themed party:
    • Take some marbles and make” bowling pins.” Use a shooter marble to scatter them.
    • Guess how many marbles in the jar.
    • Teach a classic game of marbles, and play chinese checkers.
    • For younger kids, get cups of paint. Put a piece of paper in the bottom of a shoe box, and roll color coated marbles in it to create works of art.
    • Marble cake!