Build a Chain Reaction with Popsicle or Craft Sticks

Did you know that you can build an exploding chain reaction by weaving together popsicle sticks or craft sticks?  I saw this post on Pinterest from Mom Trusted, and I knew that the boys would want to try this!

Build an exploding chain reaction with craft sticks!

The chain stays together as long as you hold down the end that you are building onto.  Release the end and…

Build an exploding chain reaction from craft sticks

There is a video of our chain reaction in action at the end of the post!

The post on Mom Trusted said that the chain was pretty easy to build.  We found that it was actually kind of tricky to get started.  I didn’t want to be defeated by this silly project, so I was determined to get it right!  We put it aside for awhile, and when we came back to it, Aidan and I figured out the chain right away.  Getting started is the hard part – once you master that, the chain is not so bad.

This chain reaction is usually called the cobra weave.  Here’s how to build one:

We found that wide craft sticks work better than the skinny sticks.

Step 1:  Arrange 4 craft sticks into this pattern.  Make them look exactly like this.

Build an exploding chain reaction from craft sticks!

Step 2:  Add another stick to the top to secure the end.  This stick must go diagonally across to hold down the ends of the top horizontal stick and the right vertical stick.  If it won’t hold them both down, slide those two sticks out farther until they are successfully held down by the stick you added.

This next photo also shows the first chain stick added.

Build an exploding chain reaction with craft sticks

 Step 3:  Build the chain by adding craft sticks, one at a time to each side.  Each stick should go over one stick, and under one stick.

Build an exploding chain reaction out of craft sticks

If a video would help, you can check out the post at Mom Trusted.  They have a great instructional video posted as well as a video of some kids who built a chain reaction with 1,000 sticks!  That one is totally worth watching.

Our longest chain so far was only about 200 sticks.  We must get to the store and buy more sticks!

Build an exploding chain reaction with craft sticks

I would recommend this project for ages 8 and up, depending on the kid.  Aidan is 9, turning 10 in July, and he was able to figure out the process.  If you’re willing to do the building yourself, any age would love watching it explode!  You can be the coolest mom on the block this summer with this project!

And now, here’s a video of our largest chain in action:

Update:  We have added a new post with two more chain reactions!  One with rubber bands that adds even more power, and one that is perfect for younger kids.  You can find them here –> Simple Chain Reactions


  1. Angie says

    Gonna have to try this! Give David something fun to do while his brothers are gone! :)
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    This is so awesome! We will have to do it (probably over and over)! I would love for you to share at Mom’s Library this week (opens this evening)!

  3. Sylvia says

    A friend just shared this on Pinterest. I got out our popsicle sticks to try it. But I cannot figure out how to set them up correctly! I get lost between the second and the third pictures. It seems impossible. Augh!

    • SarahDees says

      I’m sorry it’s not working! We had trouble at the beginning. Are you using popsicle sticks or craft sticks? We found that the wide craft sticks work better. Also, you might try going to the post that I linked to at Mom Trusted and watching the instructional video. It was really helpful for us – but I had to keep pausing the video to make ours match the screen! I hope it works for you!

  4. Christine says

    Love it! We had a hard time getting them to stay put at the beginning so we used a heavy book to hold them. Worked out very well!

    • SarahDees says

      We had about 250, and my boys are wanting to build a longer one! I just bought another box of 300. I’d say a box of 300 is good to start with, and if your family is really into it, you can add more later.

  5. Margaret Alexander says

    This is neat. I and my friend are sunday school teachers for 1 and 2nd graders. That would be good for the walls of Jericho. I’m going to show it to my friend and see what she says…Thanks we need all thehelp we can get…Praise the Lord.

  6. miguel says

    espectacular, hasta verlo no lo creí, voy a hacerlo con mis sobrinos, gracias por esta divertida e interesante idea, gracias.

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  8. says

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  9. Elizabeth says

    My niece would dig this; a lot of little girls would. I wish this was marketed as frugal fun for all kids.

    • Kerry says

      Her blog is called Frugal Fun 4 boys because she has 4 boys. This is about HER LIFE. Not yours or anyone else’s. There is nothing in this world that says you can’t do it with girls. But the fact remains there are a lot more crafts out there that are geared mostly to girls. As a mother of 2 boys, interesting to see how someone can use boy-related things to get the children interested in creating with something besides Lego. (not that there is anything wrong with Legos, we give that company a good portion of our money!)

      • Sarah says

        ^What Kerry said! Some people just seem to like to take offense where no offense was intended or made. smh

      • Bryan says

        “someone is wrong on the internet”. . . yeah I shouldn’t be responding, but I sort of want to suggest that the idea that “most crafts are for girls” just means someone told you that something was “for girls”, not that you have to be a girl to do them. I’m not actually sure this counts as a craft anyway, more of an activity. . but that’s semantics. I ask you, who do you think “shop class” is usually marketed toward? When you think woodworking and such, is it boys or girls on the cover of those magazines? Granted some do, and there are a lot of women doing DIY youtube vids and such, but I don’t think there is any question that boys need more “crafts”. Maybe we need to just stop telling boys they can’t knit, or tell girls they can’t use legos? (which I understand they do enjoy without it being made any different “for them”)

  10. Natalie says

    Tried this with my boys this morning, but we can’t get it to work! It’s the “locking stick” that gets us every time. In the How To video, the boy just zips through that part like it’s no issue. But we have a pile of broken sticks to prove otherwise! We’ve tried both thick craft sticks and thin Popsicle sticks, and neither seemed to do the job. What are we doing wrong?!?

  11. says

    Great idea about the diagonal stick at the top to keep them together!

    There is actually a kit/game you can buy that has sticks and a starter piece that makes it really easy to get started. Came out a couple of years ago. Called Stick Storm.

    They also have sets that have wall mounts and balloon additions. Really neat stuff!

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