Mechanical Play and the MAD Museum

A few weeks ago we visited The MAD Museum in Stratford upon Avon with some of my family. The MAD Museum showcases Mechanical Art & Design, or ‘kinetic art’ – a variety of artwork where movement is a intrinsic part of the piece. The museum is relatively small, but it’s really hands-on meaning that all of the children (five in total, aged around 18 months to 6 years, not including ‘Baby I’ who is a little young!) were able to enjoy and access the museum in their own way.


We had so much fun that we were inspired to have a go at some things of our own.

Marble Maze

First up, a marble maze. We used stickle bricks to create the maze, and had a go at tipping the maze to get the marble through from beginning to end. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but worked well enough.

Mechanical models

Once we’d finished with the marble run, T wanted to make a fairground. The set we own came with some circular pieces which can turn, so we used these to create our ‘rides’. First, a windmill-type ride, and then something akin to a merry-go-round! The latter involved some trial and error for T figuring out how to stop the arms falling off the moment they were moved!

Marble run

Finally, we used cardboard tubes and wooden blocks to create a simple marble run, with a robot figurine at the end to be knocked over.


All of these activities involved a fair bit of adult assistance, but T enjoyed helping and making suggestions. We haven’t done a lot of this kind of thing before but I definitely intend to do more of this kind of play in the future! What are your favourite¬†toys for encouraging construction and engineering?


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