Oscillating Bird Science Toy For Kids

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.

It’s based off of an old folk toy, and is a great way to teach kids about the science of potential energy.

It’s easy to make, and very fun to play with. I’ll insert the original instructions below, as well as a video so you can see it in action!

Click on the template below, then print.

Coloring Sheet Version 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.

Original Template Below.


  1. Véronique
    June 22, 2013 at 1:36 am

    thanks, fascinating oscillating bird ! I've never had one, the moment to make one for my kids !

  2. lisa
    June 25, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I remember these as a child. I cant wait to make this. Thanks for the tutorial

    1. June 26, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Cool! I'm curious what use made them with as a child. Did you use rubber bands? I know sometimes people would make them with a stick and a little spring (like from a pen).

  3. June 26, 2013 at 12:09 am

    [...] / 9. Luna imprimible en tres tamaños, para que puedan dibujar y luego colocar en su pared. / 10. Pájaro oscilador  / 11. Aprender los números / 12. Aprender a coser a máquina con [...]

  4. June 27, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    [...] Learning is fun with this oscillating bird toy from made by joel [...]

  5. June 29, 2013 at 5:39 am

    [...] 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 printout) is a plastic straw, a rubber band and some [...]

  6. July 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    [...] How to make a woodpecker [...]

  7. July 8, 2013 at 6:17 am

    When I watched the youtube video, it wasn't science and potential energy I was thinking about, but just how much kids would be amazed by the woodpecker like movement! Just brilliant. This is surely gold compared to mindless computer games, or am I simply old fashioned? Thank you Joel. /Mark

    1. July 8, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Thanks mark! Yes, I'm a strong believer in having balance between between screen time and hands-on playing and crafting. Kids really love the thrill of creating things like this!

  8. July 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    love it, so clever. The colors are killer as well!

  9. July 25, 2013 at 11:22 am

    [...] visit made by joel to download the template [...]

  10. July 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    [...] Más información: made by joel [...]

  11. August 16, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    [...] a nifty, scientific oscillating bird toy from Made by Joel. The free printables are super cute and come in two colors. Click the link to [...]

  12. December 16, 2013 at 8:17 am

    [...] Oscillating Bird Toy – Here’s another easy one to make that doubles as a lesson in physics. All you’ll need is a piece of straw, a rubber band and a paper bird (there’s a free printable in the link). Click here for instructions and here to read why it works. [...]

  13. December 26, 2013 at 1:39 am

    [...] Voleu fer-vos un picot garfer per jugar? [...]

  14. January 6, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    wow!! great idea... when i'll be a teacher i will propouse it to my student...

  15. May 29, 2014 at 8:14 am

    […] Oscillating Woodpecker Toy by Made by Joel This simple toy masquerades as a lesson in physics. Find the instructions, free printable of the woodpecker, and details on why it works on Made by Joel. […]

  16. November 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    […] Here is the link:  http://madebyjoel.com/2013/06/oscillating-bird-science-toy-for-kids.html […]

  17. November 19, 2014 at 12:08 am

    […] podéis ver cómo funciona. Muy divertido, ¿verdad? Este proyecto pertenece a Made by Joel, si pincháis en el enlace iréis a la página original, donde están los […]

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