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 …

Copterman! Paper Helicopter Toy

I have great memories of making these paper helicopters when I was a kid. They fly so well! The kids love dropping and watching them spin to the ground. My son also really likes toys that have people on them – so introducing Copterman! The amazing rescuer that can bend his elbows backwards! We’ve been having a hilarious time coming up with …

Modern Kids Ride-on Toy

Little E is always fascinated to watch her big brother and sister ride on all of their bikes and scooters. She often tries to sit on them and scoot around. I always wanted to try making a ride-on toy when the twins were little, but never had the time. So I finally got my chance! I’ll probably make more, but for this first design, I wanted to keep …

DIY Wooden Paper Slingshot

In the last week of summer break, my son told me one morning that he was bored. So I asked him if he’d like to make a slingshot. He definitely said yes! I’d actually been thinking about this project for awhile, and I believe the design ended up having the perfect balance of safety and excitement. Lightweight paper arrows, gentle elastic …

Cereal Box Coin Roller Toy

Baby E has officially mastered the Toy Slot Box, so we decided to try making a variation that would provide a bit more action. I used a cereal Box for this one, and it actually works quite well. Sometimes the coins will roll 10 feet across the floor! There are simple directions below if you want to try it out. Round lids from around the house should …

DIY Animated Father’s Day Dragon Card

The kids and I found a cool how-to pop-up card book at the library. So this Father’s Day, we’re making animated fire breathing dragon cards for the grandpas! I drew a dragon out and the kids wrote on it, then tomorrow they’re going to color it in. Sweet! If you want to get in on the action, below are simple instructions for how to …

Prepare for Launch!

My five year old daughter has recently discovered the fun of catapulting things with her spoon. To bring the action a bit further away from the table, I decided to make some very simple catapults out of scrap wood. After dinner we spent the entire evening catapulting Star Wars Lego figures outdoors. It was super funny, and I was surprised at how high …

Paper Circus Rider Toy

I thought of this little circus unicycle rider awhile back. It’s easy to make, but requires pretty good motor control to wheel around, which is great for kids. If you want to try it out, watch the one minute video to see how to make them. There’s also a template below, but I encourage you and your kids to try drawing your own figures as …

Knights Battle: Made by Joel vs. Lego

My son and I are big Lego fans, and he just got a new knight that has a moveable arm. It looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I’d try and make a wooden version so we could have a friendly dual. We had a great time making a little video too. (Spoiler alert: Lego wins :) We’re already drawing up plans for additional wooden knight accessories, …

Blow Fish Toy

I made a sketch for this idea awhile ago, and just came across it in my drawer this morning, so I thought we should give it a try. All you do is make the fish (using the template and the directions on the sketch below), thread the string through the straw that’s inside the fish, then tape the string ends to your wall. Once it’s on the string, …

Indoor Ring Toss

Here is a simple ring toss game that I made with buttons, pipe cleaners, and thick paper. It takes only a few minutes to put together, and it works surprisingly well. The buttons add weight to the rings, so they fly through the air nicely. If you want to make your own, just get out some thick paper (or cardboard), tape, pipe cleaners, and buttons. Then …

Bird Thaumatrope

I’ve wanted to try making a thaumatrope spinner for awhile, and when I recently saw these on the Made in Me blog, I had to give it a try. I just finished a bird painting for a commission, so I used it for the design. When spinning, it almost looks like the bird is flapping its wings. The kids were really excited to see the illusion, and the act …

Catapult Toy

Last week I made this wooden catapult toy. I was originally going to have it toss paper balls but thought it would be cool to sew some instead. (Similar to the yo-yo balls I made awhile back.) It worked really well. The kids both had a real kick trying to make a basket. I made each ball have slightly different weight, so you have to adjust your technique …

Dancing Deer

The very kind and crafty people at HowDoesShe recently invited me to do a craft for them.  I had just picked up a box of brads (the paper fasteners) and was excited to try making a toy with them.  So here is the result.  A funny little dancing deer.  If you’ve never used brads or brass fasteners before, then go to the store and get some.  They’re …

Woodpecker

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 …

Wooden Marble Maze

The idea for this came into my head a couple of weeks ago.  I’m probably not the first one to do it, but it’s quite fun to play with.  Similar to a marble labyrinth, only much easier, which makes it great for younger kids.  Just set the marble on the small start hole, then get it to roll down the path all the way to the end, where it …

Toy Swing Set

Jack and Tess have always loved swings.  One of their favorite activities in my art room is swinging the climbing gorilla toy that I made over a year ago.  So now I’ve added another swing to the mix.  A very simple one using bent wire and wood scrap.  I made it so the guy comes off, so part of the fun is just getting him into the seat.  It …

Zip Line Toy

I’ve always loved zip lines.  As a boy I even made a real zip line from my treehouse.  Jack and Tess aren’t quite ready for that though, so I thought of this idea for a little zip line toy.  I bent some paper clips and taped them to the wall, then tied a long string between them.  Then bent another paper clip around an empty sewing machine …

Toddler Stilts

I was talking about stilts with a friend the other day, and remembered the old coffee can stilts that were popular when I was a kid.  For Jack and Tess, I thought the tall coffee cans would make me a little too nervous, so I used some pieces of 2×4 wood instead.  They were a huge hit.  It was so funny to watch them in action.  And when they …

Yo-Yo Ball

My kids each have a yo-yo but they’re not able to work them yet.  So I tried to think of something that could provide a more toddler friendly yo-yo experience.  I used some Paul Smith sock material scraps and some cotton canvas to sew a ball.  Then attached a length of elastic string.  So far, the kids are loving them! I’ve never sewn a …