# 0-3 Years, 4-7 Years, 8-12 Years, Gravity, Outdoors

Best Summer Toy for Small Yards or No Yard

Best Summer Toy for Small Yards or No Yards - TheEngineersKids

Happy First Day of Summer! I am so excited. I know everyone else has been out of school for a month, but we just got done last week! It seems so sad, I know, but usually we don’t go back to school until mid September (this year we go back in August, because they are switching us to a more “normal” schedule all because of all the testing the kids have to do in school…lame). And September is a much better month to be out of school in California.

Why you ask? Because all the touristy types have left, so it’s not crowded, and it’s way hotter than it was in May and June. So we are still partying, and picnicking, and surfing, and swimming, and Disneyland-ing, etc. Then San Diego does the whole month of October when kids get into everything free, so we just keep on partying. Which is why we all live here, even though it is so dang expensive, and our houses and yards are much smaller than in other areas.

We live in a condo. It’s small for seven people. And the backyard is only twenty feet by twenty feet, which leaves little room for slip-n-slides, pools of any sort, elaborate sprinkler systems (awwwe, I want one of these for Eva), or especially this monster that my kids are in awe of.

We beat the heat with our good old garden hose, some buckets, and our favorite hot weather toy. The kids call it a chemistry set.

Best summer toy for no yard - Water play - TheEngineersKids

The weather really warmed up here for a few days this week. The kids played chemistry on their picnic table for hours and hours. The set we used came from our local toy library, which normally I love, but this time it kind of hampered their play a bit. I felt protective of the toys, since they weren’t ours and there was mud and soap involved. The set came with a couple of small pitchers with pour-spouts, a few pipettes (like turkey basters), measuring cups and spoons, and some plastic hoses.

Best summer toy for small apartments - Water play - TheEngineersKids

Since the kids were getting the toy library toys muddy, I made them put them all away after that. We never really got them back out again, and then it was time to return them. It made me feel like a mean mom for not letting them play more when they were having so much fun with it.

Best summer toy when you have no yard - Water play - TheEngineersKids

I decided to get out some of our own tools and look into making our own “chemistry” set a little cooler. Maybe I’ll run to the dollar store to see what they have.

Here’s my shopping list:

  • bucket (ours are all cracked, and really all the play buckets at Target and Wal-Mart are just not very sturdy)
  • turkey baster
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • large and small funnels
  • plastic tubing if they’ve got it
  • a colander (so the kids can make an outdoor shower of course)

Or maybe I’ll save myself the trip and just buy this same one, since it really was pretty all-inclusive.

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Quadrilla Wooden Mable Run - TheEngineersKids
# 4-7 Years, 8-12 Years, Gravity, Toy Reviews by Age, Toy Reviews by Topic

Quadrilla Wooden Marble Run

The Quadrilla Basic Set marble run is something new we checked out from our local toy library. At the toy library we can only choose two toys at a time, so we’ve been alternating between boys and girls. This week was boys’ turn. Finn* walked in, saw this wooden marble run immediately, and shouted, “Yes! A marble run. Finally, I can do a marble run!” Leto, following suit, looked around and spotted a set of sound blocks (the first thing he saw), and shouted , “Yes! I want this.” He loves his big brother, and that was the fastest in and out of the toy library ever.


The quadrilla basic set doesn’t have very many pieces, but the support blocks make it interesting. Some allow the marble to pass through a tunnel, some shoot it out a hole on the side, and one is a switch that selects one track and then the other for the next marble. At first I was afraid Finn was going to be too frustrated, but he picked up on how the support blocks work really quickly and had fun using the different ones.

The instructions come with a few tracks that can be made with the basic set, plus it includes some teaser tracks that you need a larger set to build. Well played, Quadrilla.

How we play it:**

For the most part the kids built the tracks that were on the instructions. Finn was able to create a couple of new tracks, but making ones that worked was a little tricky for Jules and Malena. I think I remember Finn attempting a two-level track that utilized the step between our master bathroom and bedroom.

One fun change Finn made was to line up a bunch of marbles on the track.

Quadrilla Wooden Marble Run - TheEngineersKids

Then, like you’d expect, the marble coming down would hit the line and the energy would transfer through all the others and push the last one off the track. But then, we tried it on a different track and the energy would transfer though to the last two marbles, but only the very last would have enough energy to get off the track. The second-to-last would get almost to the edge, but then slow and roll back and get back in line with all the others. Am I too nerdy to find that exciting? I can deal with that. It was pretty surprising and Finn thought it was funny.

Leto needed my help to follow the instructions to build a track, but I was surprised how much fun he had just stacking up the support blocks into towers and dropping marbles through them. You could put marbles into the various holes and sometimes they would fall through to the bottom and sometimes they would pop out the side. It was kinda exciting.

Also surprising was how much fun Eva had with it. I played with her, since I didn’t want her choking on a marble, and she had a lot of fun. She could stack the towers up a little bit like Leto, and she loved to see the marbles pop out in different spots. I made a track for her that had two endings, and she squealed in delight and told me (in baby language or course…I love this age when I am the only person in the whole world who knows what she is saying) that the marbles were coming out both sides. She also loved to just set up a support block and a ramp and watch the marbles roll around the floor after dropping them in.

 How you’re supposed to play it:

I think I pretty much covered that. Build tracks for the marbles, see the instructions if you need help. Overall, I think we will be checking this one out from the toy library again in the future. It was lots of fun for everyone. Personally, I would love to try out the music mixer add-on or the music motion set.

How about you? Do you have a favorite kind of marble track? I happen to love the ones with a big jump.


* Current ages of the kids: Finn 7, Jules and Malena 6, Leto 3, Eva 15 months

** I love to show you some of the ways to play with the toy that are not necessarily what was intended by the toy designers.