Oh goodness, this paper tumbling toy is a very fun project that kids are going to love! It’s also quite easy to make from items that you probably have around the house.

This paper tumbling toy is similar to our walking paper horse in that gravity causes it to demonstrate some really unique motion. The horse “walks” its way down an incline, shifting its weight from one foot to another. This tumbling toy flips over and over down an incline. They’re both SO COOL!

Here’s how the tumbling toy works.

This little project is all about gravity! Inside this little paper tube, a loose marble rolls back and forth. The marble rolls to the downhill end of the tube because of gravity, which causes the uphill end of the tube to flip around and become the downhill end. The marble rolls downhill again, causing the process to repeat!

Want to see it in action? Click the play button below to see a video demonstration.

Ready to make a paper tumbling toy? Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • Heavyweight paper – we used a file folder. Card stock would also work well.
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • A marble
  • Craft foam, or a similar surface that provides some friction.

I found this project from this Pinterest pin, and I could see how to make the tumbling toy, but there were no other details given. I quickly made one, but it just slid down the ramp we set up for it without flipping over at all. We decided to increase the friction by covering our ramp (a project display board) with craft foam. It worked perfectly!

If you don’t have craft foam, try felt or another surface that will provide a little friction. Foam board, books, etc. are too smooth.

Step 1: Cut a 3.5 inch by 3.75 inch rectangle from your file folder.

Step 2: Use a ruler to mark off every 0.75 inches on the long side. Then fold on the 0.75 inch lines.

I used the ruler to fold nice and straight lines.

Step 3: Fold the file folder rectangle over into a tube.

Secure it with tape.

Step 4: Then cut slits on the corners.

Do this on each end of the tube.

Step 5: Fold over two flaps on each end so that they curve. Tape them in place.

Then trim off the excess from the other two flaps.

Step 6: Place a marble inside the paper tube.

The marble will roll back and forth inside the tube. This is what creates the flipping motion.

Step 7: Then fold and tape the flaps on the other end.

Your tumbling toy is ready to play with!

Here’s what we used for a ramp. This is a tri-fold display board (foam board) that is just leaning on the bottom step. We used two sheets of craft foam to give the board more friction.

Want more simple STEM ideas?

Be sure to check out our Walking Paper Horses!

Here are some cool Inertia Science Experiments to do with Pennies!

2 Comments

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  1. Do Aug 3, 2020

    Two of our boys made a tumbling toy. With a car drawn on the four sides. So it looked like cars were tumbling over. A great succes! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
    1. Sarah Aug 11, 2020

      Oh, that's such a fun idea to add a drawing!

      Reply
    2. Paper craft geek Oct 20, 2020

      This is an awesome project

      Reply

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