DIY Catapult Reading Game with Cardboard Sight Word Board!

DIY Catapult Chinese Sight Word Reading Game!

This DIY Catapult Chinese sight word game is my kids’ new favorite learning toy! Since they spent the past few days playing this game, I knew I had to share it with you!

If you’re looking for something that teaches science while reading, this catapult sight word game stimulates these skills and more!

I’ll also share how to adapt this activity to different ages and learning goals.

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DIY Catapult Chinese sight word reading game!
DIY Catapult game board propped up on bookstand from Amazon

Since one of my main homeschooling tasks has been to teach Chinese characters to my son, I’m trying to pique his interest with fun games!

Older kids can easily help set this up which also helps improve their fine motor building skills, concentration, and also writing practice! My 6-year-old daughter participated in preparing this game for little brother!

This is a great opportunity to encourage observation and making hypothesis about how the catapult works (eg, projectile force)!

More good news: the catapult and reading game take about 15 minutes to make with materials you already have at home!

We’re always trying to think of great learning activities with cardboard rolls!

Fun DIY Catapult reading game - Chinese, sight words, learning activity

Important vocabulary

Since many of you are learning Chinese with your kids like me, I’ve tried to translate relevant catapult terms.

Here are the translations for each English word in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and Hanyu Pinyin.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions, especially if you’re fluent! 🙂

  • Catapult 弹射器 / 彈射器 (tánshè qì)
  • Ready, set, go! 预备,准备,开始!/ 預備,準備,開始!(Yùbèi, zhǔnbèi, kāishǐ!)
  • Launch/shoot 弹射 / 彈射 (tánshè) or 发射 (fāshè)
  • Let’s see if you can shoot a pom pom into the container! 看看能弹射几颗小绒球进去容器里! / 看看能彈射幾顆小絨球進去容器裡! (Kàn kàn néng tánshè jǐ kē xiǎo róng qiú jìnqù róngqì lǐ!)
  • What word did your pom pom hit? 你的小绒球打了什么字? Nǐ de xiǎo róng qiú dǎle shénme zì?
What you need to make a catapult: craft sticks, rubber bands, pom pom, bottle cap, and glue or tape
Craft sticks, elastic ties, bottle cap, pom pom

What you need to make a catapult

  1. Popsicle sticks / craft sticks 冰棒木片 (bīngbàng mùpiàn)
  2. Pom pom or cotton ball 小绒球 / 小絨球 (xiǎo róng qiú)
    1. If you don’t have cotton balls or pom poms, you can roll up scrap paper into a ball!
  3. 5 rubber bands 橡皮筋 (xiàngpí jīn)
  4. Bottle cap 瓶蓋 (píng gài)
  5. Glue 胶水 / 膠水 (jiāoshuǐ) – We love this craft tacky glue!
How to make a catapult in 6 easy steps

How to make a catapult in 6 easy steps!

  1. Stack 6 small craft sticks (rainbow colors above) and tie each end with rubber bands (red in photo).
  2. Stack 2 large craft sticks (natural wood above) and tie one end with rubber band (yellow in photo).
  3. Insert stack of small craft sticks perpendicular between large craft sticks. The result is a cross or “t” shape.
  4. Create an “X” with the remaining rubber banks (purple in photo) by tying them diagonally to secure the perpendicular shape.
  5. Glue or tape bottle cap to end of launching stick. Make sure to leave a few millimeters gap at the end. This will be where the fingers will push on the stick!
  6. Place pom pom in the bottle cap and have fun playing!
How to make a catapult - easy steps with craft sticks and rubber bands

What you need to make the sight word toss

  1. Toilet paper rolls 卫生纸筒 / 衛生紙筒 (wèishēngzhǐ tǒng)
  2. Piece of cardboard 纸板 / 紙板 (zhǐbǎn) – size depends on how big and challenging you’d like this game to be
  3. Scissors 剪刀 Jiǎndāo
  4. Glue 胶水 / 膠水 (jiāoshuǐ) – same craft tacky glue!
  5. White 1″ round Avery labels
Preparing catapult reading game

How to set up the cardboard word board

  1. Cut toilet paper rolls into thirds
  2. Glue them onto a piece of cardboard
  3. On white dot stickers, write numbers, letters, Chinese characters, or whatever the desired learning objective is for this game
  4. Tape white stickers in center of cardboard rolls
  5. Set up the cardboard word board flat on a surface or propped up against a wall or bookstand.
  6. Rule to minimize mess: each time a pom pom misses the shot, the child has to pick up the pom pom before launching the next pom pom.
Writing Chinese characters from Sagebooks
Big sister helping write Chinese characters from Sagebooks

5 ways to play with the DIY catapult learning game (Chinese and more)

Launch the DIY catapult and review whatever the pom pom lands on!

As with most of our activities, teaching objectives can be tailored to your child! Ideas for older kids include:

  1. Chinese characters – review old and new words!
  2. Numbers (eg, practice adding up the score)!
  3. Letters – write 26 English letters or 24 Korean Hangul letters and see if you can cover the whole alphabet!
Fun DIY Catapult reading game - Chinese, sight words, learning activity

For younger kids who are not yet ready to read or interpret symbols:

  1. Colors (use colored dot stickers and see if your pom pom can match where it lands!
  2. Shapes – draw solid shapes!

Encourage kids to play on their own

We’ve added the catapult and sight word game board to our kids learning shelves!

Periodically during the past week, my kids will walk by and launch pom poms into the Chinese word spots!

This set up also prevents the pom poms from flying everywhere!

I hope your kids have a blast with this game, too!

Chinese sight words and pom poms!

More learning activities with recycled cardboard

Currently, my 3-year old is using our DIY Montessori Spindle Box to learn counting.

Both of my children are having a blast with these eco-friendly DIY Cardboard Roll Projectors!

Check out more learning activities with recycled cardboard here!

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