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Self-Propelled Creeping Creature Instructions

Updated on February 5, 2016
This colorful, scrap decorated creature scoots along the floor on rubber-band power.
This colorful, scrap decorated creature scoots along the floor on rubber-band power. | Source

Make a colorful, rubber band powered moving toy with odds and ends

You can make this kooky, self-propelled toy in an afternoon. Its design is based on the same principles as the spool tractor, an old-fashioned home made self-propelled toy made with a thread spool, a rubber band, a washer made of soap, and a couple of twigs or matchsticks.

The downside of the traditional spool tractor is that it doesn't even come close to moving in a straight line. So I designed this creeping creature to move more or less in a straight line. The addition of another rubber band and drive stick gives this toy more stability than the spool tractor I based it on. It also makes the toy move a bunch faster.

Read on to learn how to make your own self-propelled creeping creature toy.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Materials and Tools

You will need:

1 clean, empty plastic spice jar or other small, cylindrical plastic jar

2 wooden chopsticks or 2 eight to ten inch (20 to 25 centimeter) wooden dowels

2 strong sturdy rubber bands

2 hotel soaps or one small bar of regular soap

2 toothpicks or wooden matchsticks or any other small, thin stick-like things

Craft glue such as Elmer's Glue All

Old magazines

A sharp, sturdy knife (I used my Swiss Army knife)

A measuring tape or ruler

Scissors

A marker

A crochet hook or a spare chopstick

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Cut Holes in Cap

Remove the cap from the plastic jar and cut two holes in it with the knife, about three-eighths of an inch (about a centimeter) apart. The holes should be about three-eighths of an inch (about a centimeter) in size. I slowly twisted the craft knife as if it were a drill to create the holes. Perfection is not necessary. Any small differences will just make your creeping creature waddle a little more.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Mark the Jar to Line Up the Holes

Put the cap back on the jar tightly and holding the jar in your hand over a light colored surface, use the marker on the bottom of the jar to mark roughly where you want the holes in it to go. This will ensure that the holes will roughly line up when the cap is on the jar. After you’ve done that, remove the cap and use it like a stencil to fill in more precisely where your two holes will go.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Cut Holes in the Jar

Use your sharp, sturdy knife to drill out the two holes on the bottom of the plastic spice jar.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Optional Jar End Coverings

If desired, the bottom and top of the can be covered with paper cut from a magazine. Use your screw cap to trace around and mark the paper circle where you want to cut the holes. Cut it out two of these and glue them to the ends of the jar (bottom and cap), lining them up carefully with the actual holes you've made.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Carve Washers from Soap

Carve two approximately one-inch (about 2.5 centimeter) washers out of the bar of soap.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Create a Paper Cover for the Jar

Cut a piece of paper from one of your old magazines as wide as your spice jar is long and long enough to wrap all of the way around the jar. Decorate the piece of paper by gluing pieces of magazine to it. I chose to make a bunch of overlapping fish-like scales finished with silly eyes and a mouth.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Cut Toothpicks

Cut the sharp ends off of the toothpicks and cut out four pieces of toothpick approximately half an inch (about one and a quarter centimeters) long.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Cover Toothpick or Matchstick Bits

Glue magazine paper in your choice of colors around two toothpick or matchstick bits at a time. Repeat with the remaining two bits of toothpick or matchstick.

Cover Chopsticks or Dowels in Colorful Paper

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Use glue and magazine paper in your choice of colors to cover the wooden chopsticks or dowels.

Optional Hands

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Decorate the chopsticks as desired. I chose to make little paper claws and glue them onto the ends of the sticks.

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Feet

You can cut out feet to glue onto the chopsticks or dowels. I recommend making them so they fold in half so both sides of each foot will have a pattern or color you want.

Finish the Creeping Creature Limbs

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Glue the feet onto the chopsticks or dowels as shown.

Assembling the Creeping Creature - Step One

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Insert the spare chopstick or crochet hook all the way through the jar and through two lined up holes. Have the wrapped toothpick bits handy to slide between the rubber band and one of the holes to keep it in place.

Assembly - Step Two

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Pull the rubber band through the jar with the spare chopstick or a crochet hook. Make sure the covered toothpick bits hold it from slipping through the hole.

Assembly - Step Three

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Thread the end of the rubber band through one of the soap washers. You can use the spare chopstick or crochet hook to hold the rubber band in place while you pick up one of the decorated chopstick (or decorated dowel) limbs.

Assembly - Step Four

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

Slide the decorated chopstick or dowel through the rubber band. Repeat steps three and four on the opposite end of the jar, then glue the decorated piece of paper around the jar.

Your Creeping Creature is Ready to Roll!

photo by Kylyssa Shay
photo by Kylyssa Shay

To wind up your creeping creature, spin both of his limbs around in the same direction until you feel some tension. Set him on the floor (smooth surfaces work best) and watch him waddle swiftly across the room.

If your creature waddles too slowly, or not at all, make sure your soap washers are nice and smooth. If they are very smooth, your rubber bands may not be strong enough. Thicker, tougher rubber bands make the best crawlies.

© 2012 Kylyssa Shay

Would You Make a Creeping Creature? Have You Ever Played With A Spool Tractor?

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    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 5 years ago from Iowa

      What a wonderful Halloween project for the family. Beautifully described and illustrated. Blessed.

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      This looks like lots of fun. Thx!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is different -- to me anyway. I never saw anything like it before

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      I'll be making a Creeping Creature first thing in the morning. This is an awesome improvement on the old spool toys, fun as those were. The little claws and feet are priceless! You've come up with another great rainy-day craft here, Kylyssa!