Spaghetti Box Kids

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Easy to Make Catapult – Simple Soup Can Design

February 17th, 2012 · 19 Comments

There’s nothing like searching catapult designs and finding just the right one. If your goal is to build a catapult for kids out of household items, the soup can design offers the perfect blend of simplicity and power. Best of all, you can adjust the launch cup to easily improve the arc and distance of launch items.

Materials:catapult design for kids

-Unopened soup can
-Rubber bands (approximately seven)
-Popsicle stick
-Business card (or cardboard from cereal box)

What to Do:

1. Wrap approximately seven rubber bands (depending on the strength/ size) around the top portion of a soup can. how to make a catapult out of householdRubber bands should form a belt approximately one inch from the top of the soup can. (figure 1)

2. Insert a popsicle stick beneath the belt of rubber bands. Make sure most of the popsicle stick is above the belt–approximately 80% above. (figure 2)

3. Make a launch cup: Using a business card or the back of a cereal box, cut a square approximately 1.5″ x 1.5″.

Build a Catapult for Kids

4. Make flaps on the launch cup: Fold the top 1/4 inch of the launch cup to create a wing or flap. Repeat for bottom. (figures 3 & 4)how to make a catapult

5. Attach the cup to the arm with a piece of masking tape on the back. Do not attach the cup the the top of the arm. Leave the tip of the arm exposed so your thumb can easily pull the arm back. (figure 5)

6. Your catapult is now complete (figure 6 & 7)

Catapults for Kids

How to Launch Stuff: Pull the arm back, insert launch item (dry bean, dime, tinfoil ball, etc) and release.

Adjustments: Adjust the top flap of the cup to correspond with launch item:

A. If item launches downward, flatten the top flap (all the way or most of the way).

B. If item flies straight up, restore the top flap into a bent position.

If you’ve been looking for just the right catapult design for kids, the soup can catapult has a few advantages. It’s easy to make, and requires a very few materials. On the other hand, it’s quite powerful for such a quick and easy catapult. Lastly–the launch cup is easily adjustable, so you can fine tune the arc of the projectile.

Best of Luck!

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Tags: Kids’ Activities · Kids' Science

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Melisa // Feb 18, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I love it. Super simple to make and easy to use. My 5 & 8 yr olds will be thrilled! THanks :>

  • 2 DT // Feb 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Great work. This will get alota miles in our house!

  • 3 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Melisa- Those are great ages for making catapults. Hope you have fun. Good luck—


  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    DT- Glad to heat it. Best of Luck–let me know how it goes. -AV

  • 5 Sam // Feb 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    When I saw how easy it is to make this design, I thought it was going to be a featherweight. But it works surprisingly well. The flaps on the cup are well-thought-out. THumbs up :~)

  • 6 ray // May 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    this is an awesome design

  • 7 Renee // Jul 12, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I used this for an Angry Bird theme party for 6-9yr old boys and girls. After they collected candy and small toys from the pinata, I had them pair up and gather cups and popsicle sticks. The title of the game was, “Will it fly?” They didn’t need much direction after that and built amazing towers to knock over with their flying candy. Thank you so much for your tutorial!

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Wow. Cool party. I bet the photos are fantastic. Thanks for the great comment. -AV

  • 9 Ele // Aug 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

    This is great!! I’m finishing my teaching degree and found this to be very effective in the classroom!! Keep them coming!

  • 10 Spaghetti Box Kids // Aug 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm


    It’s really good to hear this catapult design is keeping kids engaged in the classroom. Thanks for sharing your success. Good luck finishing up your teaching degree.


  • 11 jack esslse // Sep 9, 2012 at 6:04 am

    mate tell us what to launch it with i have no idea

  • 12 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Above where it says How to Launch Stuff, I suggest-

    dry beans (pinto, lima, kidney…)
    tinfoil balls

  • 13 Taylor // Mar 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    You are awesome at making catapults!!!!!!!

  • 14 meg // May 1, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    who knew soup was this much fun i didnt

  • 15 Tom // Sep 27, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Hello my name is Tom. I am 8 years old. I am from cubs at Birkenhead and I have learned to make a catapult. I have made a arrow and a crossbows from ice block sticks. I will have to make a castle because you have to shoot it a long time. I very enjoy it very much. thank you
    By Tom

  • 16 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Good to hear from you Tom. Sounds like you got a lot accomplished recently. Good luck with the castle and catapults.


  • 17 julie // Dec 3, 2013 at 5:19 am

    Our group used this design for our 8th grade science class. Thanks, we got an A. Also, my little brother is into catapults now!!

  • 18 John Paull // Mar 2, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Hey, THANK YOU for such a great and innovative idea.
    I’m a 73 year old retired educator – but I continue to run evening workshops for parents and their young scientists, entitled ‘I’m a Scientist!’

    These sessions focus on engaging science activities made from junk.

    May I share your ideas with my classes, please?

  • 19 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 2, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    John Paull,

    Your workshops sound like a lot of fun. I’m sure the kids have a good time.

    Sure thing–go ahead and use my designs at your leisure.

    Best of luck—

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