By peoplestaff225
Updated June 10, 2008 06:00 AM

I have been ‘blessed’ with an early riser, in our 4-year-old Owen. He frequently is up before even the sun and my husband and I are forever looking for quiet ways to entertain him so that the rest of the house can continue to sleep. He has a closet full of toys, but they’re often loud — obnoxiously loud, when it’s 5 a.m. We recently received Quercetti’s marble run with motorized elevator(MSRP $46.99), from International Playthings, and have finally found the answer to our pre-dawn Owen woes. Not only is it practically silent, it holds Owen’s interest like no other toy we’ve ever owned … which, for us, means an extra hour of much-needed, much-deserved sleep.

As any mom to a 4-year-old knows, Owen is at an age where he wants to know exactly how things work. Often in excruciating detail! What I really appreciate about the marble run is the transparency of the tubes that carry the marbles and all the open ramps. There’s no mystery for Owen in where the marbles have gone, he can easily track their location at every turn.

And track them he does! From the extra long bridges to the disc-like funnel to the motorized elevator to the spinning gears, the marble run has 160 pieces in all — that adds up to a lot of action for your little one. But it’s not just mindless action, like I’ve found in a lot of toys currently marketed to pre-schoolers. The marble run is a great way to teach your kids the principles of physics, like gravity and inertia, for you can watch the marbles slow down and speed up as they make their way through the run. The bases are sturdy, keeping the marble run stable, and the height of the motorized elevator is adjustable for whatever configuration you choose. If a certain set-up has gotten boring after a few days of use, just sit down with your child and come up with something new together. You’d be amazed at Owen’s reaction when we do this — it’s like a brand new toy in his eyes, each and every time!

We do have a baby in the house (17-month-old Sam) and took steps to keep him away from the marble run. Because marbles are a big choking hazard, our marble run is set up in Owen’s bedroom — not in any common area where Sam is likely to be playing. The toy is recommended for children ages 5 and up.

Quercetti says its products are like "vitamins for the brain," designed to "stimulate reasoning, creativity and manual skills." After testing the marble run with motorized elevator, I’d wholeheartedly agree. Several weeks after we received our marble run, it continues to be the first thing Owen wants to play with in the morning and the last thing he wants to play with at night.

To purchase Quercetti’s marble run with motorized elevator, click here.