The best toys are simple in nature. They are also capable of generating lots of activity. That’s what makes catapults for kids such great toys. The designs are plain physics in action, and there’s an abundance of games and activities. Most games you can play with one person, or add players to match skill for skill. The best part is inventing your own games. Here’s some to get you started. If you need a catapult, these designs are easy to make: Catapult Designs for Kids
(Note: If you are using white cotton balls, for some of the games you’ll need to color code them with a marker to keep track of whose are whose.)
Games to Play with Catapults:
1. Open a desk or dresser drawer. Each player shoots five cotton balls. Score a point for each one that lands in the drawer. Play again. First to reach eleven points wins.
2. Each player launches five cotton balls at a loop of string. Score a point for each one that lands inside the loop. First to reach eleven points wins. Advanced: Make a loop inside the loop for 2x points.
3. Each player shoots five cotton balls at the base of a wall. Score a point for the three closest. Play again. First to reach eleven points wins.
4. Using playing cards, place 1 ten, 1 five and 4 twos on the floor. Each player launches a cotton ball and receives points based on the nearest playing card. Play again. First to reach twenty five points wins.
5. Take turns launching two cotton balls off a wall. Score a point for the player whose two cotton balls land closest together. First to reach eleven points wins.
6. The first player launches three cotton balls with the goal of landing them as close together as possible. Note the size of the triangle formed by the three balls (measure the perimeter if necessary). Repeat the process with each player. The player whose three cotton balls are closest together wins.
7. Use a shoebox or salad bowl for a target. Give each player ten cotton balls. See who can launch the most into the target.
Variations on Game 7:
- See which player can shoot the most times in a row into the bowl.
- One player launches cotton balls at the bowl until three in a row are made. Count how many balls were used. Repeat the process for each player. The player who used the fewest cotton balls wins.
- Two players sit ten feet apart with a bowl next to them. Take turns launching cotton balls. The first person to land five balls in the other person’s bowl wins.
8. Use a coin for a target. Each player launches five cotton balls at the target. Give a point to the three closest. Play again. First to reach eleven points wins.
9. Place an empty laundry basket against the wall. Each player launches ten cotton balls (bouncing off the wall if needed). The player who lands the most into the basket wins.
10. Cut a circle out of the middle of a poster board and hang it in a bedroom doorway. Each player shoots ten cotton balls. The player who makes the most through the circle wins.
Of course, all the catapult games are flexible enough to accommodate different ages and skill levels. (And you can always introduce a timer for added suspense!) Another variation is to make cotton balls available to players who provide correct answers to scholastic questions. For instance, before the game begins ten cotton balls are distributed one at a time to the player who is first to correctly answer a geography or math question (9×7, half of 12×3, the capital of Rhode Island, etc). That’s the great thing about catapults for kids–there’s a ton of ways you can play.