This snowball catapult alphabet activity is a super easy winter STEM activity! My preschooler and my toddler really enjoyed experimenting with the catapult.
I was surprised to find that both of my children were able to enjoy various aspects of this activity. Although it was so much fun for them, it was also a great learning experience. I love that!
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- 7 jumbo craft sticks
- 3 rubber bands
- A jug lid
- Cotton balls
- 2 baskets or bowls
- Paper and crayon/marker
Make a Simple Catapult
It may seem intimidating at first, but you can make one in a couple of minutes.
- First, stack 5 of the craft sticks and rubber band them at each end.
- Then wrap one rubber band around the very end of the other two craft sticks.
- Slide the stack of 5 craft sticks between the other two sticks. Then wrap a rubber band around the center of all of them.
- Glue the milk jug cap on to the craft stick that is facing up.
Set up the Winter Alphabet Activity
- Cut two square pieces of paper and write a letter on each one. Tape them to the bottom or side of your bowls. I decided to use the letter d and the letter b for this activity because we are still working on b/d reversal.
- Place your catapult and snowballs nearby.
Snowball Catapult Alphabet Activity
I began by encouraging my son to practice using the catapult first. I asked questions to help him gather information about how to successfully use the catapult for this activity. Here are some of the questions I asked:
- What do you think will happen if you press down hard on the catapult?
- What happens if you don’t press very hard?
- What happens if you move the catapult backward?
- What happens if you move the catapult forward?
- What do you think will happen if you press down on the catapult and very quickly let go?
- What happens if you put more than one cotton ball on the catapult?
After he experimented with throwing the cotton balls for a while, we started the alphabet activity. At first, I would call out a letter and he would try to get a snowball to land in the corresponding bowl. Eventually, this changed to him trying to see how many of the 8 or so snowballs he could get in the bowl.
For some added difficulty, I started calling out words that either started with a d or a b. For example, I would call out “baby” and he would decide which letter that starts with. Then he would catapult a snow ball into the corresponding bowl.
My two-year old (26 months) was even able to use the catapult. She got a real kick out of catapulting the snowballs!
This is definitely I will be pulling out this winter when we are stuck indoors more often. I like that we can work on different letters or letter sounds each time. I actually think I may try two different sight words next time!
Head over to my Alphabet Activities page for even more fun, hands-on letter learning ideas!
MORE Winter STEM Ideas from the Early Childhood Education Team:
Gingerbread House Construction Ideas by The Educators’ Spin On IT
Winter STEM Activity – Build a Snowflake by Fun-A-Day
Winter Inspired Tinker Tray by Still Playing School
Winter STEM for Preschool: Evergreen Tree Construction Challenge by The Preschool Toolbox Blog