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Pioneer Marble Making History Lesson Plan

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/5/2012

This history lesson plan is as fun as it is educational. American history students will enjoy exploring the pioneer world using a hands-on method of teaching.

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    Marble Making

    To complete this history lesson plan on the pioneer world, review the material below, then complete the activity listed.

    Today, children have rooms full of toys and video games. They come home from school ,do their homework and their chores, then are free to play with their toys and/or their friends. Every now and then, children today get to go to the nearest super center or dollar store and buy new toys if their parents are able.

    In the pioneer world, things worked quite differently. Children often did not even attend school. Rather, they worked on the land or in the home with their parents. Toys were very limited in the pioneer world. There was no dollar store to run to and as such, any toys the children had were often made at home and highly prized! On simple toy that was enjoyed by pioneer children was a marble. There were various games to be played with marbles. But, since there were no dollar stores, how did one obtain a marble to play with. They made them out of items to be found in the kitchen! Assemble the materials listed below to make your marbles!

    • 2 1/2 cups of flour
    • 1 cup of salt
    • 1 cup of water
    • food coloring (optional)

    It's easy to imagine that this recipe quite likely came about on accident as a child helped their mother with the cooking. Perhaps they were making biscuits and had some leftover mix. Perhaps a child played with this mix then waited for it to dry and found they had created something substantial! However it came about, this salt clay recipe was used to make marbles. Remember as you create your marbles that while you are using food coloring, the pioneer children most likely would have used various berries for coloring rather than food coloring. Follow the instructions below to make your marbles!

    1. Mix dry ingredients.
    2. Separate mix into equal parts numbering the same amount as your food coloring. If you have four colors then separate the mix into four parts.
    3. Separate water into the same amount of equal parts.
    4. Add food coloring to water.
    5. Add water to mix. Mix well until a clay is formed.
    6. Roll small amounts of clay at a time into balls to form marbles.
    7. Allow drying time. Play with marbles!

    For a glossy effect, try painting the marble with mixed egg whites and allow drying time.


  • Student teaching experience.