Spaghetti Box Kids

Strategies, Tips and Activities for Learning

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Easy to Make Catapult

July 21st, 2009 · 84 Comments

Eventually every parent is faced with this all important question: how to make a catapult for kids? We don’t welcome the question–it just comes to us one day when we’re wiping up spills or looking for a toy. In any case, there are many ways to go about it, but the following method has a few advantages:

  • It’s completely original
  • It only takes a few minutes to make
  • It uses household items you already have on hand
  • It’s the perfect size to play games and activities

What You Need:

– newspaper
– tablespoon
– rubber band
– masking tape

how to make a catapult out of household items
What to Do:

1. Roll a section of newspaper like a log.(figure 1)

2. Secure the middle with tape. (figure 2)

3. Stretch a rubber band. Place the log of newspaper on top of it. (figure 3)

4. Loop the two ends of the rubber band to the top of the log. Pass one end of the rubber band through the other. Hold the surplus with your finger. (figure 4)old fashioned toys

5. Stick the end of a tablespoon through the surplus rubber band. (figure 5)

6. Adjust the spoon so that its length is approximately 1/2 way through the rubber band.

7. Tape the ends of the log to your tabletop (or to a place mat so you can move it around).

8. The catapult is now complete. (figure 6)

Note- This is a starter catapult. For a Complete List of designs, see Catapult Designs for Kids

What Objects to Hurl: Cotton balls, Q-tips, cut up sponge pieces.

How to Hurl Objects: Use three or more fingers. Press down quickly on the handle of the spoon. (Tip: to hurl objects further, adjust the spoon so that the greater length is to the rounded end of the spoon.)how to build a catapult for kids

Games and Activities:

1. Place a bowl 6 to 12 inches away from the catapult. See how many cotton balls in a row you can shoot into the bowl.

2. Same as game one, except this time give each person ten cotton balls. Person who shoots the most into the bowl wins.

3. Make a tower using three rigatoni (log-style) noodles. See how many times it takes to knock down the tower.

(Variation: Launch half a dozen Q-tips at once.)

catapult designs for kids4. Lay a roll of masking tape its side. That’s your target. Now each person flings a cotton ball toward the target. Closest wins a point. (If you make it in the center of the roll you win three points.) First person to ten points wins.

5. Use a marker to make red freckles on three cotton balls, and
blue freckles on three others. Again lay the roll of masking tape its side. You child shoots her three, and you shoot yours. Give a point to the three closest. For example–2 for red and 1 for blue. First person to reach ten points wins.

Show me your complete list of Catapult Games.

There’s nothing like a homemade catapult for kids to stimulate lots of new activities. The activities are simple, wholesome and engaging. Best of all, the easy to make catapult has plenty of room for your child’s imagination and ingenuity. Don’t be surprised to see your child experimenting with a longer spoon, two spoons, thicker roll of newspaper, etc. Half the fun is tinkering with the design! Good luck!

Tags: Kids' Science · Kids’ Activities

84 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Emily // Jul 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    My 3 and 5 year olds just love this activity. You do a really good job explaining how to make a catapult–your design is really easy.

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks – I’m glad they enjoy it. Another variation is to make two catapults and face each other from opposite sides of the table. Each person sets targets on their side of the table–take turns shooting.

  • 3 Catherine // Jul 25, 2009 at 1:53 am

    This was much loved, even by mum and dad. And it was really quick to make, most of my time was spent looking for the tape.

  • 4 Christie // Jul 25, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Oh this sounds like such fun! My boys are older but still love to play, and I think this will make for some good family fun. Thanks for the easy-to-follow instructions.

  • 5 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 25, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Catherine- I’m really glad mum & dad enjoyed the activity also. It’s kinda’ catchy isn’t it?

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 25, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Christie – Sure thing- a good variation for older kids is a contest–who can make the best catapult. Also, if you make it on a hobby board, you can experiment with springs/ spring tension.

  • 7 Mandy // Jan 22, 2010 at 2:51 am

    This is a wonderful activity. My 6 and 7 year olds have invented about 50 ways to play. They’re just fascinated with it. Thanks for the how-to.

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jan 23, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Sure thing. I’m glad it’s getting so much attention. All the best. -AV

  • 9 Sam // Nov 2, 2010 at 2:26 am

    The new designs look promising. Can’t wait to Get gOing!

  • 10 Crystal // Nov 15, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    The new catapults are really well done (esp the “bear trap” design). I can’t tell you how thankful Iam for the illustrations; I can’t stand directions that are poorly written, with no illustrations and impossible to figure out. Keep up the great work :) Crystal

  • 11 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 15, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, Crystal. Best of luck with the new designs.

  • 12 Keira // Mar 20, 2011 at 12:46 am

    does anyone have ideas for doing it when its on wheels its a distance of 1 meter and you cant touch the arm???

  • 13 Ted // Mar 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Try a skateboard with a string that goes through a pulley then attaches to the arm.

  • 14 kim // Apr 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    love this!! it is soooo easy!!!:]

  • 15 Spaghetti Box Kids // Apr 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Good stuff. Glad to hear you’re having fun with it. -AV

  • 16 Chelsea // May 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I love this.This is a great thing for us to do and learn things as we grow up.Love it.Great job on making this website.

  • 17 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 11, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Chelsea, thanks for the encouraging feedback. It’s good to know you’re enjoying the site. Hope to hear from you again. All the best–AV

  • 18 beth // Jun 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    This rocks. It worked out great for a school project :-)

  • 19 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jun 10, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Glad to hear it. Best of luck-

  • 20 Amy // Sep 8, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Super easy – Well worth the few minutes it takes to find the materials and put together.

  • 21 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for the positive review. Good to hear it was so easy to put together. Cheers-

  • 22 flashlight // Sep 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Looks like a lot of fun. The illustrations are very effective. Nice work:)

  • 23 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Glad to hear the illustrations make things easy.. Good luck -AV

  • 24 Bonita // Sep 22, 2011 at 3:47 am


  • 25 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    That’s great to hear. I’m glad the design worked out for you. All the Best -AV

  • 26 Jinx the Kidd // Oct 17, 2011 at 12:06 am

    How far do the objects it launches generally go?

  • 27 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 17, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Jinx the Kidd,

    Good question. This is a starter design with only one rubber band for tension. Still, there are a number of variables: for instance–size of the rubber band, length of the spoon, diameter of the log of newspaper, weight of the object.

    That said, this design flings a rubber grape, on average, a modest six or seven feet in the air (which means “the roll” is excluded from the measurement).

    For better power, try the Brawny Launcher Design, the Super Fling Design or the Soda Can Design (see links above). The Soda Can Design, for instance, flings the same grape an average of sixteen feet in the air, and nearly double if “the roll” is counted in the measurement. The Super Fling Design, with a well made launch cup would do even better.

    Hope that helps. Best of luck–


  • 28 zimmer // Dec 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    it is more fun with too spoons :]

  • 29 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jan 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    zimmer- Good to know. Thanks for weighing in–

  • 30 Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan // Feb 2, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I love it=) I have a sick Big Man who will need something to do tomorrow.. Looks like we will be launching lots of stuff;)

  • 31 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 4, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Good to hear. Hope it speeds the recovery–

  • 32 Emily Thompson // Feb 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Is there a more complex way of making a Trebuchet

  • 33 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm


    Right now I don’t have any Trebuchet designs you can make out of household items. The Trebuchet was quite effective at sieging castles centuries ago, but on a small scale–as a toy–it’s quite cumbersome. So I haven’t had much incentive to design one.

    That said, I know there’s lots of you looking for ideas to make a Trebuchet for science class–one that includes a counterweight and sling. With that in mind, I’ve been tinkering with a simple design that uses everyday household items. When I’ve got it worked out, I’ll post the results (in the Catapult Designs for Kids article–see link after step 8 above).

    Thanks for Stopping By–

  • 34 Jimmy // Mar 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks a lot I was also doing a project, and this article was really helpful!
    : D

  • 35 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 16, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Jimmy- Good stuff. I’m glad the content was useful to you. Good luck with your project.

  • 36 cole // Mar 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    great site. i love making catapults. thanks :D

  • 37 jake // Apr 27, 2012 at 4:57 am

    The superfling catapult is awesome. Great design!

  • 38 nicole allen // May 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    ok so i made one using fat sticks instead of rolled newspaper and it rocked
    in tech class

  • 39 MORGAN // May 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    WOW! I am doing this for a school project… Me and my friends had to make one for school, and this website is better than all the rest!

  • 40 Michaela // May 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Thank you so much for this easy to make design. Me and my other friends had to research how to make a catapult and yours was the easiest by far!

  • 41 Brandon // May 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Dude im in tech class and this is how i made this dumb project we had to do.. well and i got stinken B- thanks for the help!

  • 42 Garrett // May 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Cool this really helped me and my best friend Michaela make a catapult. Thanks a lot, dude.

  • 43 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 24, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Brandon- Sorry to hear it. This is a starter design, as I mention in bold red lettering (in the middle of this article). For a school project maybe it would have been better to use one of the other–more challenging–designs. AV

  • 44 Greg // Jun 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

    This was great for my project, this was one I didn’t expect to be so good, and this really helped! Thanks.

  • 45 Mickey // Jul 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Amazingly simple and effective!

  • 46 jack // Jan 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    this is great

  • 47 blod d'informations // Jan 30, 2013 at 2:49 am

    One more, Yes!

  • 48 Sarah // Feb 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    This ste helped mealt with my scincproject got a bi fat A+

  • 49 jhong // Feb 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    cheap, quick, easy.
    my physics kids love this.
    great for projectile motion activities.
    [just not in the cafeteria]

  • 50 rick // Mar 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    i want a catapult alut more powerful then this

  • 51 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Rick, Try one of the other designs. . .

    . . .or invent your own.

  • 52 Kyle S. // Mar 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    i like this catapult it makes me happy :]

  • 53 Bob P. // Apr 5, 2013 at 12:22 am

    It needs more detail Alot more detail.

  • 54 Spaghetti Box Kids // Apr 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Bob, sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Maybe this catapult isn’t for you. Good luck- AV

  • 55 ATG // Apr 6, 2013 at 6:25 am

    This design is ridiculously easy, it’s amazing! I also love your other designs, the instructions are easy to follow, the materials are easy to get, and best of all, it’s fun! Thanks for taking your time to do this.

  • 56 leyanna // May 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    maybe this catapult website is not that bad they have cool projects

  • 57 Jamie // May 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    this is too easy. i want something harder too make.

  • 58 Adrienne // May 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I just wanted to say thanks for taking time to offer so many activities and ideas on your blog. Your content is fresh, so different than much of the the cookie cutter stuff out there. I always gather inspiration for learning activities like the mayan numbers, and the math games, etc. So thanks again!!


  • 59 maylie // May 9, 2013 at 12:44 am

    this really helped me. I had to do a science project and had do idea what to do. I found this website. now I can finish my project. thanks

  • 60 abby // May 9, 2013 at 12:45 am

    this is supper easy. I love it

  • 61 jacob // May 9, 2013 at 12:47 am

    this website is good. the catapults are the best part but theres cool other things to make.

  • 62 Pompom // May 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    This is easy, I need it for school

  • 63 Spaghetti Box Kids // May 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm


    Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. I’m glad you’re getting good use out of the site. You might also enjoy the Learning Strategies section. (Upper right hand corner under ‘Categories.’)


  • 64 Amber // May 23, 2013 at 2:52 am

    thanks so much this is a really easy project for school thanks!!(:

  • 65 kyle // May 31, 2013 at 10:50 am

    this catapult is waaaay to easy

  • 66 Jessica // Jun 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

    omg love this site

  • 67 joy // Jun 15, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    cool had some trouble but nice

  • 68 Evangelina // Jun 17, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Helped me do my project for school

  • 69 hap // Sep 5, 2013 at 4:21 am

    it works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 70 adam // Sep 18, 2013 at 3:04 am

    boring and did not help me with my project

  • 71 lisa // Sep 19, 2013 at 4:12 am

    This is toooo much fun. Thanks sPaghetti bOx KiDs!!!

  • 72 krazy // Sep 23, 2013 at 9:02 am

    it was for school thanks u saved me!!!!


  • 73 Letter to a New Homeschooler | Talking Stick Learning Center // Oct 2, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I remember us using these instructions one day. It worked great! We spent a long time hurling cotton balls toward a bowl that day.

  • 74 Hi // Mar 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Is this thing for 2 year olds or something.

  • 75 Spaghetti Box Kids // Mar 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Yes, basically this is a starter design for younger kids. In the middle of the article, in bold red, I give a link for more challenging designs on this site. There are nine others to choose from.

    Good luck—

  • 76 Tyler // Apr 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I had to do this for a school project i thought this was gonna be really boring but it was really fun. I’m gonna make another one BYE. :)

  • 77 jalen screen // Apr 29, 2014 at 11:21 am

    awesome catapults!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 78 jalen screen // Apr 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

    this project wont be boring after all

  • 79 phyco // Apr 29, 2014 at 11:44 am

    man theses catapults are fly man fly like fire

  • 80 Anonymous // May 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    i love these catapults!!!!!!!!!

  • 81 Jerett Strickland // May 27, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Awesome catapults

  • 82 CakeGroup // Jun 27, 2014 at 7:11 am


  • 83 // Jul 28, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    That’s really kool with
    a capital K

  • 84 Nancy // Jan 16, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Great success with PreK to grade 2 today. We used colored tape and a cardboard base which enabled a place for their names and easy identification. Thick elastic bands seemed to work best as they are less likely to twist. We launched pom poms. Most predicted a shorter distance then that which they actually launched. Thanks!

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