Bunny Automaton

Have a hoppy time with this do-it-yourself bunny automaton. With help from our templates and a bit of tinkering, you'll be able to create a bunny that hops along with a single push.

Behind the hopping action you see, there are some really interesting simple machines at work in this project. By using materials that are easy to manipulate (like cardboard and coat hangers), this hoppy bunny gives kids direct hands-on experience with wheels and levers. Ask your child to watch what happens as the wheels move and describe it to you. You'll be able to see how the bent axle takes the round-and-round motion of the wheels and turns it into an up-and-down motion. Have fun tinkering with your bunny automaton!

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Gather your materials!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    Print out our template, and cut it out along the orange lines.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    Trace the shapes onto a piece of cardboard. You'll need two wheels, so make two of those.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Step 4

    Cover your paper tube with cardstock and glue it in place. You can make your bunny any color you want, and you can even decorate the paper before you glue it on.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

  • Step 5

    Fold the cardboard along the small blue line from the template and glue the tube to the flap. This will act as a hinge for your bunny to jump up and down!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 5

  • Step 6

    Cut a straw into three 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Then, cut a piece of wire about 15 inches (38.1 cm) long. Slide one straw onto the middle of the wire.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 6

  • Step 7

    Using our wire guide template, bend your wire so that it looks as close to the template lines as possible.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 7

  • Step 8

    Slide the other straws pieces onto opposite ends of the wire. Then, glue them to the ends of the V so that they are directly across from each other. These will hold your axle in place, but make sure not to get glue on your wire!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 8

  • Step 9

    Cut a 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) piece of straw. Then, glue it to the bottom of the craft tube about a 1/2-inch from the top of the craft tube.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 9

  • Step 10

    Insert another piece of wire through this tube. Bend it into a rectangle shape that's long enough to reach the straw in the middle of your other wire when it is turned away from the tube and the bunny is lying flat.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 10

  • Step 11

    Glue the bottom of the wire rectangle to the straw in the middle of the long wire.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 11

  • Step 12

    Glue a craft stick to the middle of the cardboard V. It should be behind the long wire when you spin it all the way around. Test to make sure your wire doesn't hit your craft stick before you glue it down. The craft stick prevents your bunny from sinking down too low and blocking its up-and-down motion.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 12

  • Step 13

    Slide the cardboard wheels over the ends of your wire. Then, bend your wire at a right angle and glue them in place. Make sure to hold them steady while the glue cools so that the wheels are firmly attached to the wire.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 13

  • Step 14

    Cut out some ears for your bunny! Glue the ears to the top of the tube.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 14

  • Step 15

    Next we gave our bunny a face by gluing two googly eyes and a pom-pom to the craft tube lid.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 15

  • Step 16

    Cut out some feet and glue them to the bottom of the tube such that they don't obstruct the rotational motion of the axle.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 16

  • Step 17

    Attach the base of your bunny to a long stick.
    You can also add more details to your bunny! We added a fluffy pom-pom tail and some pipe cleaners on its ears and for whiskers. Just make sure it doesn't obstruct the axles!

    Photo reference of how to complete step 17

  • Done!

    What happens when you push the bunny across the ground? Does it hop? 

    Photo reference of how to complete step 18

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