Teach kids about basic circuits and exercise their ingenuity by creating a DIY spin-art box from a cardboard box, motor, wire, and a battery!
- Cardboard box
- Scissors or box knife
- Hobby Motor (The motors we have are no longer available, but this is a nice set that also includes, among other things, a battery holder, wires, and switch.)
- Batteries (use correct voltage for the motor)
- Duct tape (or a super strong tape)
- Switch (optional)
- Eye dropper or squeeze bottle
Warning: Spinning cardboard or paper can cut you, be careful. When working with motors and batteries, follow all directions as outlined by the supplier to ensure your are using their product correctly and safely.
- Cut off the flaps of the cardboard box, trace and cut a large circle from one of them, marking the center of the circle.
- Set up your circuit with the motor, battery and switch according to the motor’s directions (i.e. Make sure you are using the right battery for the motor). If you don’t have a switch you can connect and disconnect the battery to turn it on and off.
- Mount the motor in the center at the bottom of the box with the motor shaft facing up. Depending on your motor’s casing, it may need to be mounted from the sides as opposed to the bottom because sometimes the back end of the shaft is exposed and will create friction on the box when running. This may be challenging, but it is exactly why you are making your spin-art box with your child instead of buying it- problem solving and creativity. We’ve done this several times and each time we try to think of a new way to mount it, including recycled Styrofoam blocks, a toilet paper roll, or one of the other flaps from the box.
- Poke a hole in the center of the cardboard circle you cut and set it on top of the motor shaft.
- Place a piece of duct tape over the shaft, pinch so it sticks to the shaft, then flatten the rest onto the cardboard.
- Test your set up, making adjustments if necessary.
- Cut your paper so it fits into the box, if necessary, then gently tape it to the spin platform.
- If you’re using poster paint or acrylics, water them down a little so they are more fluid.
- Turn on your contraption and squeeze paint as it spins!
Creating your own toys with your children fosters creative thinking, independence, and pride in one’s work. It also helps reduce waste and clutter in your home. Once you are done playing, you can dismantle your spin-art box, and reuse the motor and battery in many ways. Then, if you want to do spin-art at another time, set it up again!
Here are some projects from our site where you can reuse the motor: