Thursday, May 1, 2014

Build a toy car that moves

I love painting things with Chuck, but sometimes I yearn to make things that actually move or do things.  So when a mommy friend suggested that we build cardboard toy cars that actually move, wowzers, I had to say yes.  She found the directions in an old kids' science book (that I don't remember the name of... sorry).  And that's how we spent an awesome play date with five kids- eating pizza and then building and racing some cardboard racing cars

Kid Science: Let's Build a Car that Moves!

how to build a cardboard car that moves
Today's craft is awesome for 2 reasons:

1.  The cars really move.  Really.  You just twist the tin can and then let go.  Bam.  The rubber bands store the potential energy and then once released, they turn the can... and your car moves by itself!

2.  You don't need any expensive materials.  In fact, you probably have most of the items already at home.  

Have I whet your appetite enough?  Ok.  Let's build! Vroooom!

Materials Needed to Build a Toy Car with your kids

  • Piece of corrugated cardboard 6" x 6" (this will be trimmed a bit later)
  • Scissors
  • 4 skewers
  • 2 caps (we used formula caps)
  • Drill (or something sharp to pierce holes)
  • Soda Can (rinsed out, dried, and tab removed)
  • 3 Rubber bands
  • Crayons, markers, or stickers
  • Tape
  • Straw

How to build a Toy Car that Moves 


1.  Use crayons, markers, or stickers to decorate one side of your cardboard.

pierce skewers through the cardboard
2.  Pierce your skewers through both sides of your cardboard.  (You'll notice that two sides of your cardboard have holes to poke skewers through.  The other two sides don't.)   One end of each skewer should jut out.

Note:  Don't get too comfortable with the skewers being where they currently are.  You may need to pull them out and reinsert them after step 4.

3. Drill or pierce a hole in the middle of each cap.  (They will serve as the wheels.)

attach wheels to cardboard car
4.  Cut your straw in half. (The two pieces will hold your wheels in place.)  Slide a skewer through.  Then, hot glue your wheels onto both ends of your skewer.

  • Make sure your hot glue does not touch your straw or cardboard.  You need the skewer to spin freely inside of the straw.
  • Hold the wheels flat as they dry on the skewer.  Otherwise they will be slanted and your car won't drive as well.  (Learned this one the hard way.)  

4.  Tape this skewer with the wheels onto the bottom your cardboard.  (Note:  Make sure that your wheels spin freely when taped to the car.  Depending on the size of your skewer, you may need to trim your cardboard a bit to give the wheels more space to spin.)

Here's a close up of what our wheels looked like:

hot glue the wheels on

Now let's attach our soda can!  (The soda can and rubber bands are what will actually move our car.)

place a rubber band on the soda can
5.  Place a rubber band in the middle of the soda can.

pierce two holes in both ends of the soda can
6.  Pierce one hole in the top of the can.  Pierce two holes in the bottom of a can.  Attach rubber bands by stringing them through both holes and then pulling one end of the rubber band through the other.  (A skewer helped us to push our rubber bands through.) 

7.  Twist each rubber band onto a skewer.  And then you're done!

Here's what our DIY cardboard toy car looked like from the top:

kids build a toy car that moves

Here's what our kid-made cardboard toy car looked like from the bottom:

easy DIY kids moving car toy

How to make your cardboard car move:

Simply turn your soda can around and around in one direction so that the rubber bands store up some potential energy.  Then, place your car on the ground and let the can go. The soda can should spin, releasing all the stored energy and moving your cardboard car!

kid science- build a toy car that moves with household materials

Super cool, right?  Happy building, friends!

Pssst- Wanna make other cool things that move with your kids?


Try making these! 

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