Marshmallow Catapults

marshmallow catapults

We are learning about medieval times with our homeschool co-op class. Last week I hosted our group and decided to do a lesson on catapults.  What child doesn’t want to see marshmallows flying around the backyard?  I needed the activity to be geared towards children aged 3-8 years old.

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I started the lesson by showing them a few pictures of catapults from a book and explained the purpose of catapults.

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Pinterest is my favourite site for searching out great ideas.  I tried a few different catapults and decided on this marshmallow one from It’s Always Autumn. I liked it the best because of the easy directions she provided.  They were perfect to show the children the step by step progression on how to construct their own catapults.

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After the children constructed their catapults I challenged them to use tape measures and record how high they could shoot the marshmallow and how far.

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We organized the children into groups of two or three.  Younger kids were paired with older children. Autumn (from the It’s Always Autumn blog), suggested using stale marshmallows so they won’t be so soft.  I left an opened bag of marshmallows out on the counter for two days before our projects.  The stale marshmallows held the wooden skewers better than fresh marshmallows but some sticks did slip around during launching.  Having two kids work together to launch the marshmallow was the best way to execute the projectile marshmallow.

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Look at that one go!

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I was surprised at the distance some of these marshmallows travelled.  The children had a blast seeing if they could beat the record.

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Some groups decided to compare using shorter wooden skewers with longer wooden skewers to see if they could achieve a greater distance from the catapults.

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I suspected the younger children’s attention spans would not stay on the catapult construction for a long time so I had a few simple materials set up for them; a log, a board and a marshmallow.  I let them experiment and see if they could get the marshmallow to fly in the air.

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It didn’t take them long to figure it out!  These levers were enjoyed by both the younger and older kids.

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Do you have a bag of stale marshmallows in the back of your cupboard?  Don’t throw them out, catapult them in the backyard!

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