It’s surprisingly very simple to learn how to build a catapult using craft sticks and a few other bits and pieces. Once you’ve made one you’ll find your child testing it out and discovering all sorts of answers to their questions.
Making a catapult has certainly been on my ‘to do list’ for a very long time. I’ve had all the pieces that I need in my back cupboard, but working out how to put it together I thought would be a greater challenge that it turned out to be. Turns out they are super simple to make and a great STEM activity to try.
Recommended age: 4 years +
(Strict and active supervision is required on all my activities at all times)
How to build a catapult using craft sticks
To help your child make their very own catapult using craft sticks, you’ll need –
- 7 x large size craft sticks
- About 4 elastic bands
- Plastic spoon
- Pompom or cotton balls
If it’s unfamiliar to you, S.T.E.M stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
There has been a great push to include more of this in a child’s daily play and educational curriculum as it’s recognised as important in cognitive thinking and problem solving. They can also be integrated together in the one activity, such as building and using a catapult using crafts sticks. These S.T.E.M activities don’t have to be taught as separate subjects.
Fine motor skills
Building and playing with a catapult like this one is great for other reasons too. Including the elastic bands in play creates resistance for little fingers and helps build fine motor skills. It’s like taking your child’s fingers to the gym for a workout. Heheh
Building your catapult
Divide your craft sticks into two groups, one with two sticks and the other with five sticks.
Add an elastic band to each end of the group of five and one elastic band to the end of the group of two, as shown.
Split apart the two craft sticks that have been joined by an elastic band at one end.
Place the thicker group of craft sticks between those two to hold it open.
This will create the leverage needed for your catapult.
Rest a spoon along the length of your top craft stick, holding it into place with the elastic band already in place.
Secure the end of the spoon onto the craft stick using another elastic band.
This will stop it from falling off the craft stick when in action.
Of course there are many ways that you can keep all the craft sticks in place.
Some children prefer to use an elastic band in the middle, in a cross, that can keep the two groups of sticks from sliding.
Ready to launch!
Once you’ve followed those steps you’re ready to launch!
Your child can use pompoms or cotton balls to launch off their catapult.
How to use your craft stick catapult
It might seem obvious, but for my 3.5 year old, it took a little coordinating in order to affectively launch something off the catapult. It’s a good idea to have your child use two hands.
Make sure your child is supporting the catapult structure with once hand first, before attempting to press down on the spoon to propel anything off it.
Testing out our predictions
We had a lot of fun testing out our predictions and verbalising what we found. This wasn’t just great for developing a wider vocabulary, but it built the excitement and encouraged more ‘out of the box’ thinking.
Some questions we were testing out –
- How far do you think the pompom will fly?
- Do you think the pompom will go further than the cotton ball?
- Will we get the same result if we do the experiment again?
- What will happen if we use smaller pompoms?
- Will they travel further or not as far?
What other questions can you think of to ask your child using the play stage?
We had an absolute ball not just making this catapult but also testing out results from when we were using it.
I highly recommend giving this wonderful STEM activity a go. It was worth the time it took to make and it really wasn’t hard to put together.
Is this something your child would love to make and play with?