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.