Craft, Creative Projects, Creative Thinking, Preschoolers, Rainy Day Ideas

Easy Catapults: Physics Fun For Preschoolers

FlyingStartKidsCatapult Rain. Non stop. For WEEKS. If you were a fly on the wall in any number of rain drenched Sydney households over the past few weeks you would swiftly have become familiar with the noise of rampant tearing out of hair as exasperated parents were constrained to entertaining small children AT HOME. Facebook mums groups erupted with calls of ‘HELP!! ANYONE know where we can go…?’ Libraries overflowed with prams and tempestuous toddlers. Living rooms all over the city were demolished and redesigned by an army of tiny expert hands. The certain taste of parental desperation permeated the soggy Sydney air. In less sun burnt countries this much rain would warrant barely the raising of an eyebrow I’m sure, but here in Aus we’re pretty much set up for doing everything outdoors and the sound of gentle pitter patter on the roof strikes dread into the heart of many a fraught home bound parent. With all the indoor based creating, cooking, dancing and meltdown management (of both kids and self) I have been doing these past waterlogged weeks surely I (and probably half of Sydney) deserve some kind of domestic Oscar for best supporting entertainer of small persons with cabin fever. On the plus side I have enough fodder for this blog for the next year. Thank God for indoor gymnastics classes is all I can say. Our quality apps have come in mighty handy for some midday down time for all the family.  I still aimed to stick to our one hour limit of screen time, which meant a fair amount of activities needed preparing. I am a big fan of really easy to put together activities, because seriously, who has time to painstakingly set up an activity which may well be soundly rejected or played with for exactly 1.5 minutes? Nooooooo thank you. This was one of our faves, a bit of design and construction, a bit of painting and lots of fun catapulting stuff all over the house.

Catapult ingredients
Catapult ingredients. That bowl was a lot fuller.

We have done this activity a few times trying different ‘ingredients’ to make our catapult. Most successful were bamboo skewers held together by jelly sweets, however we did discover this set up had a major design flaw which was that this catapult was far too tasty and kept getting nibbled. I don’t know who these children are who can make catapults from things like marshmallows and jelly sweets and not eat them, but they certainly don’t live here.

Slightly nibbled catapult

I demonstrated what we were aiming for first and L Star copied me as we went along. We talked about the difference between triangles and pyramids and why we shouldn’t keep eating all the jelly sweets. That one came up a lot actually. Next time we tried using straws and play dough.

Not so springy
Not so springy

We talked about not getting frustrated when it doesn’t work because experimenting is what’s important. L Star still got a bit sad about this one but we blamed it on the mushy play dough and tried to focus on what we’d learned. Higher order thinking involves being able to analyse and improve on a theme so deconstructing and reconstructing was a really important part of the activity.


We made a craptastic target with completely arbitrary scores for each circle. I don’t think any of our pom poms even hit the target. Our catapult fell over and then fell apart. The boys worked out how to fix it and how to keep it steady. Note photographic evidence of one holding the catapult and one placing pom pom on spoon. Actual co-operation and turn taking, hurrah! This is not a very common occurrence as you may gather so is somewhat exciting.

UHU Tac and skewers
UHU Tac and skewers

This combo worked pretty well, old blue tac type stuff that had gone really hard and lost all its stick. Like mega hard play dough really. This one worked well for catapulting peas and pom poms over the couch. And also at Dad whilst he ate dinner. catapult comp 1 This  one will stay on our rainy day go to activities for a while yet, always a winner 🙂


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