A water balloon launcher is a great project for a hot day!
For a couple of summers we’ve been wanting to figure out how to make a really awesome water balloon launcher or catapult. Last year, we built a great catapult, but it does much better with sponge splash bombs and can’t handle the weight of water balloons. We needed more power! We searched online and found ideas for either complicated wood catapults (which would require more money for supplies and more time to build) or 3-man water balloon sling shots, and we don’t have three kids that are big enough to operate one.
Back to the drawing board.
When I saw this post on simple wood catapults from Housing a Forest, I knew we were on to something!
(Yes, those photos are not of the same launch – notice the balloon changing colors? But they were the best shots we got that didn’t have a little brother riding a bike through the photo, etc.!)
Aidan has been having a blast launching balloons with this simple catapult. He easily launches them to heights equal to the roof of our two story house. He also likes having Dad launch the balloons while he tries to catch them with his baseball glove. He’s been successful too!
To make one, you will need:
- One 1 x 4 board
- One 2 x 4 board
- Wood screws
- A small plastic container
- Duct tape
We made two sizes. The launcher above is 55 inches long with two 4 inch chunks of 2 x 4 screwed to it. We also made a smaller one that is 36 inches long.
SAFETY NOTE: The longer launcher is MUCH more exciting. However, if you launch it with the force of an exuberant 10 year old, the catapult will flip over completely. Make sure that the length of your catapult is proportionate to the size of your child so that it will not hit them in the face if it flips over! When I launched ours it did not flip over at all, but Aidan always has to do everything with great energy. He did not hurt himself, but I just wanted to put that out there. If you cut the board short enough, safety is not much of a concern with this project, but like I said, the shorter catapults are not as fun. Your call… 🙂
We used a screw to attach a plastic container to the end to hold the water balloons.
If your screw pops the water balloons (ours did), you can cover it with a piece of duct tape.
Also, you may want to drill a hole in the plastic container before inserting the screw to reduce the chance of the container cracking.
Owen had fun launching the smaller catapult!
One more tip – if you use water bombs (as opposed to regular balloons), they break more easily. We found that putting the water bombs in a bucket of water kept them from breaking before we wanted them to!
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