Rubber Band Launchers, Two Ways

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Ok, we’ve launched marshmallows from cups and rockets from straws, so now it was time for Travis to play around with how he could launch things with rubber bands!

First up, thanks to a renewed fascination with bugs, was a Spider Launcher. This project was a little tricky; we had to redo it twice before we got the elastics right!

First, cover a sturdy cardboard tube (such as an empty roll of packing tape) with construction paper.

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We chose orange because, well, spiders and Halloween and all that, but any color would work. Glue or tape the paper on.

Glue 4 lollipop sticks around the tube so that they form a square.

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Leave these to dry for at least 2 hours, so your structure is sturdy. Full disclosure: we did have one pop off, and I duct-taped it back on.

To make your “web,” slip an elastic over all 4 posts. Loop it around each post, then push down to the bottom of the sticks.

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Slip a second elastic over the post. Completely lift the first one up and over the second elastic (so only your second elastic is now looped on the lollipop sticks, if that makes sense).

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Repeat with a third elastic, slipping it around the post, and then lifting the second elastic completely up and over it.

Repeat with a fourth elastic, slipping the third elastic completely up and over it. Confused yet? I hope the visual helps!

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Now place a toy spider in the middle. Pull back on the tautest, center of your web. Snap the elastic back, and spider flies!

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This was tricky for my four year old, but he could do it with help for bigger launches, and by himself for shorter launches.

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Even better, his bug toys now had a web to call home, so overall it was a success!

Since this turned out to be so complicated, I also asked him if he wanted to make a much simpler rubber band launcher, using just with a couple of elastics and a cup. Here, then, is the Rubber Band-Powered Cup Launcher.

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Put two rubber bands on a sturdy paper cup so they form a cross.

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(Note: It may help to stretch your rubber bands out a few times to loosen them, or your paper cups will crumple).

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Place a third rubber band around the cup to hold the other two in place.

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Press this cup down over a second paper cup. The elastics will go taut, and when you release… Boing!

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This one is simple enough to do with a crowd of kids, and would be a fun one outdoors, perhaps for any upcoming Memorial Day barbecues!

Rubber Band Splatter Painting

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Following on the heels of outdoor painting and yoga, here’s still-more fresh air fun. Technically you could do this inside, but it’s so messy you’re really going to want to be out in the grass.

To set up, you’ll need an old picture frame (or one that you don’t mind getting a little paint-splattered), ideally about 8×10. Remove the backing and glass, and attach large rubber bands at intervals around the frame.

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Set up newspaper under your work surface, and then place construction paper (or other heavy paper) underneath the frame. Travis wanted black as the background – why not!

I set him up with a tray of paints, and showed him how to paint just along the rubber bands (drips are okay, of course). Travis liked the tricky wobbly nature of this.

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Imagine his surprise when I showed him the next step: Snapping back a rubber band and letting the paint on it splatter onto the paper below. Boing!

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Because the black wasn’t the best background, I suggested lighter colors like pink and yellow for our next few rounds.

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The result is very neat, splattered paintings. Don’t forget the art smock for this one!