Spaghetti Box Kids

Strategies, Tips and Activities for Learning

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Easy to Make Catapult- Super Fling Design

February 1st, 2011 · 27 Comments

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:easy to make catapult for kids

-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)how to make a catapult for kids

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. simple catapult designOpen 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)home-made toys

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.
easy kids catapult
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!

Tags: Kids’ Activities

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mumerance // Mar 10, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Excellent job. Your designs are one of a kind, and the illustrations make the directions very easy to follow. Keep up the solid work!

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Have fun and good luck with the catapult designs. -AV

  • 3 Anna // Apr 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    THANK YOU so much for sharing your know-how. Your designs are a huge hit. Truly, my kids are SO focused when they’re making your catapults. Keep ’em coming!

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Apr 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I’m glad to hear that. There’s no replacement for the advantages that come from making something on your own. There’s the intrinsic reward–the gratification. That can’t be overlooked because it’s catchy– it nurtures the habit of self-motivation and self-reliance. Then, of course, there’s the advantage of knowing how something works when you make it on your own. That invites tinkering, trial and error, scientific examination and, of course, persistence in achieving a specific outcome.

    Best of luck. -AV

  • 5 Sam // Aug 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Neat! This is a really good catapult design for my physics class.

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Aug 30, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Good to hear! Let me know how it goes.

  • 7 Mariah // Sep 15, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Wow! Your really smart, Spaghetti Box Kids!

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Kind of you to say so. Any smarts I have I attribute to always sitting in the front half of class. That and Billie Holiday records. Thanks for your great comments.


  • 9 Amy // Oct 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Good use of literature. I think Hemingway would have approved :)

  • 10 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 19, 2011 at 2:37 am

    That’s funny. Yes, he was a man of action. If anybody would have given the nod, it would have been him. Thanks for stopping by–

  • 11 Victoria // Nov 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Hey these are great! You are so brilliant! I am using the Spaghetti Box design for my 9th grade egg launcher design.We will see how it goes!
    Thank you so much!

  • 12 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Victoria- That’s great to hear. If you are going to launch an egg try these changes:

    -Use three coat hangers instead of one. (Secure them together near the bottom, middle and top using masking tape.)

    -For the launch cup, use something large enough to hold the egg–like an empty tuna can or the lid from a jar. Use masking tape to secure the cup to the arm.

    Good luck-

  • 13 Dad of 2 // Feb 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    My 2 and 3 year olds love playing with the one they made, when they’re not studying for their Grade 8 Piano, Violin, Guitar, Triangle, Bass and Cello Exams.

  • 14 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Dad of 2- That’s quite a rigorous schedule you have. I’m glad you set aside time for fun and games, and that they’re enjoying their new catapult. -AV

  • 15 bugs // Apr 24, 2012 at 12:00 am

    this thing rocks great job!

  • 16 Tom // Dec 4, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    This catapult is very well designed. Nice that it uses such ordinary materials- it’s how they’re assembled that makes all the difference. Nice work.

  • 17 Poor Physics Student // Mar 11, 2013 at 3:33 am

    I would love to do this for my physics catapult project which needs to go 4-6 meters with calibration. I’m having trouble following your instructions and the pictures are a bit small.

    Please help !

  • 18 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Look at the final illustration–figure 9–and you’ll say to yourself, “Oh, I can make that.”

    The trickiest part is making the launch cup (figures 6 and 7.) If you can’t follow my method, then invent your own. Masking tape comes in handy.

    Good luck-

  • 19 Abby // May 1, 2013 at 1:00 am

    I’m having a bit trouble understanding #2. I dont understand what it means when twisting the hanger, to I cut the bottom part off?

  • 20 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 1, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Abby, Use a book (figure 3 and 4) or a pair of pliers to twist the ends of the hanger.

    You see in figure 9 how the launch cup is positioned. It is able to sit in that position because you twisted the end in step 2.

    Also, in figure 9, the other end of the hanger that sits inside one of the books is able to sit in that position because you twisted the end in step 2.

    Hope that helps.


  • 21 lizzy // May 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    cool projects cool design it really flings things

  • 22 Anonymous // May 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    neat! this will be awesome for my middle ages day

  • 23 Liam // May 7, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    i’m knoking down stuff left and right with this thing!!

  • 24 ace // Aug 12, 2013 at 4:36 am

    I am trying but it is too difficult to undestand.

  • 25 lasky // Oct 2, 2014 at 3:07 pm


  • 26 Ashton // Oct 27, 2014 at 7:43 am

    This is so cool I’m going to try it out.

  • 27 Someone // Oct 27, 2014 at 7:47 am


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