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.

60 Responses
  1. Nicole

    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. Joel Henriques

    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.

  3. Caroline

    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.

  4. Collin

    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.

  5. Joel Henriques

    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!

  6. Hazel Terry

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

  7. Lori Henriques

    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. :)

  8. julie

    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.

  9. shapewear

    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!

  10. fajas

    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.

  11. Anonymous

    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.

  12. Geek+Nerd

    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!

  13. The Bailey Family

    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!

  14. nika-po

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

  15. Joel Henriques


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

  16. bulle de gum

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

  17. Anonymous

    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!

  18. birparcamutluluk

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

  19. Anna

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