Artist Hazel Terry recently told me about Science Toy Maker, which is a site run by a brilliant technology educator and filled with great toy projects including this oscillating woodpecker.  It’s such a fun toy!  Easy enough for my 3 year old kids to use.  Yet, there are some adjustments that can be made, such as how tight or loose you stretch the rubber band, and what angle you hold it, that have an effect on how the bird moves, making it interesting for older kids and adults too.

I thought it would be fun to use one of my collage bird designs for this toy.  It is simple to put together, and there is a template and instructions below to help you make your own.  Also, if you want to see it in action, check out the short youtube video below.

– Click on the template, print and cut it out.  (I used a sturdy matte photo paper.)  If you’d like, you can use the dotted lines and fold the paper in half lengthwise so you can cut both sides of the bird out at once.  (When folding the paper you might want to fold against a bright window so you can get both sides to align perfectly.)
– Take a plastic straw and cut off one inch, then tape it in between the bird halves (see photo).
– Apply glue or tape to the rest of the bird and fold in half, sticking both sides together.
– Cut a thin rubber band (the thinner the better) and thread it through the straw.  Now start pecking!
For more detailed instructions and to learn the physics of how this works, check out the Science Toy Maker post here.  Also, my daughter kept letting go of the rubber band after the bird landed, so I tied some beads onto each end of the rubber band to keep it from falling out of the straw.  Might be helpful if you have younger kids.

Template: Click on the image below, then print.


  1. Nicole
    October 3, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Joel, I am so happy that I found your site! I've been making little things for my (almost 3 year old) son. I make them at night and put them on his dresser for him to see first thing in the morning. Thank you so much for all the ideas! And your kiddos are adorable :)

  2. Deborah
    October 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Super cool!!

  3. Laine
    October 3, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Great! Smart you are!

  4. Nalisha Chouraria
    October 4, 2010 at 1:26 am

    This is so lovely:)
    when i saw this website, i was reminded of a similar website run by one of our guest lecturers in college here in India. He is a wonderful person and so is his website. You must check it out:

    all the best

  5. Joel Henriques
    October 4, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Thanks everybody!

    Nalisha Chouraria - Hi Nalisha. Wow, I just looked at that site. What a huge collection of great toys! Thank you so much for showing me. I've also just returned an email to Slater (from the Science Toy Maker) and gave him the link as well. I'm sure he will love it too! Many thanks, and I look forward to seeing more of your wonderful toy designs too.

  6. Caroline
    October 4, 2010 at 4:52 am

    What a simple and entertaining idea! Your blog is a gem and I always look forward to seeing what wonderful ideas you have come up with.
    Have a wonderful week.

  7. Hazel Terry
    October 4, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Fantastic, I will be trying this out.x

  8. inge
    October 4, 2010 at 8:01 am

    o waw, i really love this one!

  9. Zosia Ekiert
    October 4, 2010 at 8:27 am


  10. la.daridari
    October 4, 2010 at 8:43 am

    you are a genius

  11. CSS
    October 4, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Absolutly amazinggggggg

  12. Collin
    October 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    My Grandma had one of these woodpeckers while I was growing up. I played with that bird every time I went over to her house. Thanks for bring back that memory.

  13. modernmaam
    October 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Gaah! Too much brilliance! And I must thank Nalisha for that link as well! It's amazing!

  14. kaat
    October 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I linked back to you (again!!) on my blog Joel, had to make the woodpeckers the moment I saw them. Thanks, keep it up!

    Your idea's are loved around the globe! Kaat.

  15. Anonymous
    October 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you Nalisha, What a wonderful assortment of toys!Absoutely thrilled! -JOJO

  16. Joel Henriques
    October 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks everyone. This is such a great community of kind people. I feel really lucky to have everyone around here, sharing ideas, great links and having fun making toys and crafts!

  17. Hazel Terry
    October 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Wonderful, don't limit yourselves to woodpeckers today we made ghosts, spiders, kangeroos and a mermaid x

  18. Catherine
    October 5, 2010 at 2:25 am

    I really like all the things you do and I wanted to let you know that I posted a link to your blog on mine (in French) : http://petitabricot.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/beaucoup-didees/

  19. Lori Henriques
    October 5, 2010 at 3:59 am

    dude! that is fantastic!!! all the way down to the brush strokes on the little red head. absolute cheer. and your score for the video is perfectly suited. :)

  20. Karen
    October 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    So nice of you to share this with everyone. Thanks for the printable.

  21. molly
    October 6, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Simple, genius. Thanks for sharing, once again.

  22. Zvet
    October 6, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Beautiful design and funny toy
    I will try to make it with my boys
    Thank you to share you passion with us

  23. Le
    October 6, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I like all designs you do, thanks for your ideas!

  24. Kickcan and Conkers
    October 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

    This is great - Hazel Terry told me about this - a wonderful find!

  25. diariodeunacouturier
    October 6, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    looks sogreat what you did!!! just great!!!

  26. lisette
    October 6, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Briljant! You are a genius!

  27. luciaretalho'sblogspot.com
    October 7, 2010 at 12:30 am

    querida Que lindinho ficou otima ideia bj

  28. julie
    October 7, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    j'ai découvert ton blog aujourd'hui meme et il est SUPERBE!!!! j'adore. c'est graphique, c'est amusant, c'est poétique... top, top, top.

  29. shapewear
    October 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    this toy looks absolutely adorable. I printed one out and gave it to my son and he loved it so much. thanks for the share!

  30. fajas
    October 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    What a simple and entertaining idea! Your blog is a gem and I always look forward to seeing what wonderful ideas you have come up with.
    Have a wonderful week.

  31. Knitting with Beer
    October 8, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Congratulations, you've been awarded the lovely blog award! I hope you will claim it.

  32. Fleur
    October 8, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Merci ! J'aime beaucoup !

  33. Alexandra Durão
    October 10, 2010 at 12:25 am

    I love it! When I was a kid I had a woodpecker wood, but came down a metal bar. Great idea! :-)

  34. Zosia Ekiert
    October 10, 2010 at 11:32 am

    wonderful !!!

  35. Anonymous
    October 12, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Hola, Joel! hace tiempo que te sigo y quería agradecerte todas las ideas que nos das, y felicitarte por el blog, tu imaginación, tu arte y tu generosidad.
    Estoy guardando tus ideas para cuando mi hija sea un poco mayor (ahora tiene 19 meses), pero no he podido resistirme a hacer el pájaro carpintero. El mío picotea mejor cabeza abajo que hacia arriba, pero he disfrutado mucho haciéndolo, me encanta jugar con él.

  36. Geek+Nerd
    October 13, 2010 at 10:51 am

    This is awesome! I made my nephews and niece little containers to stick their treasures from nature in, for Christmas, this toy would be a perfect addition! Thank you for sharing!

  37. Joel Henriques
    October 13, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you everybody! I'm glad you're enjoying the woodpecker!

  38. The Bailey Family
    October 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Are you kidding me? This is GENIUS!! I love how such a simple toy can be so beautiful and also so much FUN. You are really amazing! LOVE this site!

  39. Yoann et Arnaud
    October 17, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    trop fort, comme toujours ... good job :)

  40. nika-po
    October 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Я в восторге от этой птицы (и других игрушек). И расскажу о ней в моём журнале, в России.

  41. Joel Henriques
    October 23, 2010 at 2:57 pm


    nika-po - Красивые дятел! Я люблю ваше художественное произведение! (Hopefully google translated to Russian.)

  42. malglam
    October 25, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you! My children are enjoying the toy a lot. A perfect activity for a fall afternoon.

  43. r8chel
    November 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I showed my kids the video of the woodpecker last evening, and my four-year-old watched it over and over and over. We made the woodpeckers this morning, and I wrote about it and posted a little video over on my blog at http://r8chel.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/woodpeckers-i-can-live-with/. Thanks for the fun project!

  44. Joel Henriques
    November 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm


    r8chel - That video of yours is the cutest!! Thanks for showing me!

  45. bulle de gum
    November 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

    thank you for all your ideas, I'm going to have fun this afternoon with my children.
    Chloé from France.

  46. Anonymous
    November 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    So cute! I am going to try to make a couple of these before Christmas, and use them as stocking stuffers for my two girls! Thanks!

  47. birparcamutluluk
    February 18, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Hello there..
    I just found this great blog.. Everything is so amazing.
    This bird idea remind me of a childhood toy..

  48. May 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    [...] by Joel has this simpel tutorial to a woodpecker on a rubber [...]

  49. yanga
    May 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    ey its kwl Joel,i hd been given your woodpecker as a report its nice and interesting

  50. May 31, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    [...] Oscillating Woodpecker – Cool action toy using a rubber band and paper. (Free printable template included.) [...]

  51. June 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Merci pour cette super idée ! On s'est tous amusé avec à la maison :D. Tu peux le voir sur mon blog.

  52. June 29, 2011 at 3:53 am

    [...] juego muy ingenioso en la página web de MadeByJoel: un pájaro carpintero de papel que irá moviendo su pico al avanzar por una bandita elástica. Muy sencillo y divertido para los [...]

  53. September 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    [...] a csodálatos ötlet Joel oldaláról származik, ahol további fotókat is megtekinthetsz a játékról! Köszönjük [...]

  54. December 25, 2011 at 2:21 am

    [...] pivert (rouge) pour les petits cousins À faire coulisser le long de son fil de manière à reproduire [...]

  55. November 4, 2012 at 9:15 am


  56. Anna
    January 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Hi from Russia! You are getting so popular here! I wanted to thank you so much! For your inspiration and the big generous heart!

    1. January 27, 2013 at 8:09 am

      That's great! Thanks!!

  57. June 21, 2013 at 9:52 am

    [...] I recently made a new oscillating bird design for a magazine, so I thought I’d share it here too. After finding this toy idea on the brilliant Science Toy Maker site a couple of years ago, I made this woodpecker. [...]

  58. June 28, 2013 at 3:01 am

    [...] Maker (more on this amazing site in another post!), Joel from Made by Joel created his beautiful woodpecker printable and now gives us another colourful printable bird. All you need to make the toy (besides the [...]

  59. July 19, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    [...] And finally, try out this favorite woodpecker project.  Make a paper woodpecker that walks up and down a rubber band.  Instructions can be found here. [...]

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