Yom Kippur Mini Catapult

to practice "hitting the mark"

to practice “hitting the mark”

I’ve used craft stick catapults for Lag B’Omer, but this year I needed a quick, thematic craft for 2nd graders right before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur liturgy features archery imagery: missing the mark (“al chet,” which is the closest thing Hebrew has to the word “sin”) and hitting the mark. Torah is sometimes translated as “to take aim.”

Think of this as an enrichment activity suitable for kids who have already been exposed to Yom Kippur practices, and for a class which has already explored teshuvah via the Jonah story by making Whale Poppers, origami storytelling props, Yom Kippur tangrams, and perhaps has even made wax seals for a hands-on Gmar Chatimah Tovah. For these kids, making a DIY catapult is totally thematic. And golly, are they FUN.

For a tutorial on catapult assembly, I’ve listed some great links below. I don’t need to recreate those steps here.
All I need to do is add a Jewish spin, and to make a catapult Yom-Kippur-y:

1)  Student makes a target of one particular behavior goal:
• Student folds a piece of cardstock in half to make a “table tent.”
• Student draws or writes one goal on the front face. (Results from today’s class were “don’t kick Dad in the face,” “stop hitting my sister a jillion times,” “stop being rude to Mom,” etc.)

2) Student assembles the catapult: 
• five craft sticks for the base (fulcrum)
• two craft sticks for the arm (lever)
• a bunch of Rainbow Loom-type rubber bands (tension)
• water bottle lid as bucket (to hold payload)
• hi-temp glue gun to attach lid to arm
• pompoms (puff ball payload)



How to assemble:
1. Glue lid to end of one stick. (Hi-temp is stronger than low).
2. Bundle 5 sticks with bands at each end. This is the base/fulcrum.
3. Pair the lidded stick with another stick, bind with bands on the far end. This is the throwing arm.
4. Wedge the base between the two arm sticks and secure with bands diagonally and straight across.
6. Don’t distribute ammo till everyone is done, and then kids can choose ONE pompom each (or there will be chaos).
7. Aim at target

Tinkering is half the fun. Kids can figure out how to add strength and stability, and to finesse aim. Experiment with method of launch (how to hold with fingers, flat on table, held in the air?), how many bands give how much tension, how far to scoot the crosspiece toward the end of the arm for maximum tension, etc.

And don’t lose sight of the real objective: to get kids to focus  on their aim toward better choices for the new year. 

We also had a target poster I made and laminated (so that I can change the labels for each occasion). We had “Torah = to take aim,” “Kavanah = intention,” “Al Chet” – sin or missed mark, and for the bullseye: GOOD CHOICES. Students held the catapults to aim at the poster, as opposed to tabletop launch at their individual goals.

If you’ve got other ideas on how to make a catapult Yom Kippur-y, add them below. Or, if you respond on facebook, I’ll add them here with credit to you.

poster for group aim w/ hand-held catapults

poster for group aim w/ hand-held catapults

Craft stick catapult tutorial at KidsActivitiesBlog
Craft stick catapult at ScouterMom
Pom Pom Catapult (using spoon instead of cap and glue) at LeapFrog
Archery on Target as Yom Kippur Metaphor (article by Nina Amir)

ETC: Catapult or Trebuchet? A catapult throws things. (David’s famous slingshot is a catapult). A trebuchet is a subset of catapult. Think of a catapult as powered by tension, and a trebuchet as powered by a falling counter-weight. This is way too simplistic a definition, but you could make this question incredibly “STEAM”-y and hands-on if you had a few class periods to spare…

2 responses to “Yom Kippur Mini Catapult

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