Ever wonder how to make a catapult out of household items? Here’s an easy design you can make in minutes. Like most home-made catapults: it’s fun to make, fun to launch stuff, and fun to tinker with the parts. If your goal is to find a catapult that launches stuff the furthest, this design is the best choice for indoor use. It’ll fling things clear across the room, so be careful to use light objects like styrofoam or crumpled paper balls. The secret is the snap tension of an everyday coat hanger. Once you get it set up, it’s all fun and games.
Things you need:
-wire coat hanger with cardboard tube base
-business card or playing card
-several hard cover books
What to do:
1. Use scissors to remove the cardboard base from the hanger. (figure 1 and 2)
2. Observe the hanger on a table top. Notice the hanger lays flat. You want to twist the two ends so that they stand upright (that’s a 90 degree turn). To do this, place one end of the hanger inside a hard cover book and hold it closed while you twist the hanger 90 degrees. (figure 3, 4, and 5)
(Note: when you’re all through making the catapult, you can return to step 2 as a way to reinforce the concept of 90 degrees. Make your arm that is flat on a table stand up 90 degrees. Open a book 90 degrees. How about 45 degrees? 180 degrees?)
3. Twist the other end of the hanger in the same way.
4. Fold a business card or playing card in half.
5. Insert one end of the hanger half way into the folded playing card and staple it thoroughly so that it does not wobble. (figure 6)
6. Bend the two top corners of the playing card into an upright position so that it forms a launch cup. (figure 7)
7. Sit at a table with a stack of three or four hard cover books. Insert the bare end of the hanger into the middle of the bottom book. The launch cup should be closest to you, hanging off the edge of the table. Your catapult is now compete. (figure 8 and 9)
How to launch objects:
Insert a crumpled paper ball into the launch cup. Pull the cup down and release.
Objects to launch:
Styrofoam balls, crumpled up paper, cotton balls, felt squares, etc.
Games to play:
-Empty paper towel rolls make excellent targets. Take turns to see who can come closest, or see how many turns it takes to knock town the target.
-One player launches three items (one at a time) with the goal of landing them as close together as possible. Note the size of the triangle formed by the three items. Repeat the process with each player. The player whose items were closest together wins.
-Place an empty box on the floor. Take turns launching objects until one player lands an object inside the box to score a point. Play until one player reaches ten points.
See a complete list of Games to Play with Catapults.
There’s no end to the games you can play with a catapult for kids. The best part is that your child knows exactly how it is made, so there’s every opportunity to improve the design. Don’t be surprised to turn around and find half a dozen catapults with slight modifications. That’s the beauty of the thing.
Best of Luck!