Can you build a working drawbridge in this castle STEAM challenge?
The Medieval period was a time of considerable mechanical innovation. Some Medieval machines include: steam powered clocks, heavy ploughs, catapults, printing presses, blast furnaces, drawbridges, spinning wheels, and tidal mills.
A drawbridge is a hinged bridge at a castle’s gates that provides entry over a defensive moat while also keeping intruders out. Drawbridges are raised or lowered by using ropes or chains.
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They also find a windmill in operation. This castle STEAM challenge pairs art and engineering to challenge kids to make a working drawbridge for a castle!
Make a cereal box drawbridge with these supplies!
- Empty cereal box or other snack box (we used a large fruit snack box!)
- Yarn or string
- Chopsticks or pencils
- Tape (we used silver Duck Tape)
- Oil pastels
- Watercolor Brush Pens (recommended! We love this brand of watercolor brush pens!)
- Craft knife (Adult use only!)
How to Build a Drawbridge – Castle STEAM Challenge
We used an empty fruit snack box for this activity. To start, we turned the box inside out by finding the glued seam along one of the sides.
After the solid brown was facing outward, we cut the box to our preferred castle shape. We removed half of the back and reattached the removed piece to the other side of our castle in order to balance our structure.
We secured the base of our structure using staples in order to make it stand on its own. You’ll have to play with the flaps of your box to figure out the best way to staple your base.
Design the top of your castle and cut pieces off as you see fit.
Would you believe that my 3-year-old painted the entire castle by herself!!?
Our castle was inspired by Frozen because we love anything Elsa and all things STEAM!
Incorporating a favorite character into this activity is a great way to get girls (and boys!) who might not be very interested at first involved in this easy engineering activity!
After our castle was finished drying, I used a craft knife to carefully cut out the drawbridge doorway and poked two holes through the top of the doorway at each upper corner and then on each inside wall of the castle.
Make sure to only cut the sides and top of the doorway. Fold the doorway down to create your drawbridge gate. This step MUST be done by an adult!
Place a chopstick or pencil in the two side holes. Check out this picture for help figuring out where to make the holes and how to place your chopstick.
Add some tape to the outside ends of the chopstick in order to prevent it from slipping back into the hole. Repeat for the other side.
Measure out your string, poke an end through a corner on the drawbridge gate, and tape the other end to your chopstick. Repeat for the other side.
We used duct tape to add weight to our drawbridge gate as well as cover up some of the bright fruit snack colors on the box!
The tape also worked well for holding the drawbridge in place while we played!
When you roll your stick forward, the drawbridge comes down.
When you roll your stick backward, the drawbridge goes up to prevent intruders!
We were pretty excited to play with our Frozen castle drawbridge and sang “open up the gates” every time we rolled our drawbridge down.
We didn’t make a moat like there was in The Knight at Dawn, but all of my kiddos enjoyed practicing with the drawbridge and investigating how it worked with my young kiddos!
Our structure has withstood the terrible earthquake that our 1yr old brings when he storms the castle!
Tell the guards to open up the gates!
This is a great activity to pair with The Knight at Dawn as well as some other medieval books.
Check out our favorite books to pair with this castle STEAM challenge!
Our Favorite Castle & Knights Books
- If You Were a Kid in a Medieval Castle by Josh Gregory
- A Year in a Castle by Rachel Coombs
- The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola
- Knights and Castles: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #2 by Mary Pope Osborne
- Craft Knife
- Watercolor brush pens
- Turn your box inside out by finding the glued seam along one of the sides.
- Secure your structure by using staples to make it stand on its own.
- Design the top of your castle and cut off the pieces you desire.
- Use oil pastels to decorate the outside of your castle.
- Paint over the entire castle with watercolors.
- Let your castle dry.
- ADULTS ONLY: Use a craft knife to cut out three of the edges of your drawbridge. Do not cut the bottom. Fold the drawbridge down.
- Place a chopstick or pencil in the two side holes. Add some tape to the outside ends of the chopstick in order to prevent it from slipping back into the hole.
- Repeat for the other side.
- Measure your string, poke an end through a corner on the drawbridge gate and tie a knot. Then, tape the other end to your chopstick.
- Repeat for the other side.
- Optional. Use duct tape to add weight to your drawbridge gate.
- When you roll your stick forward, the drawbridge opens.
- When you roll your stick backward, the drawbridge closes.
When you roll your stick forward, the drawbridge opens. When you roll it backwards, the drawbridge closes.
PIN THIS IMAGE TO SAVE THIS CASTLE STEAM CHALLENGE!
Meet Toni, the Maker Mom behind Our Family Code
Hey there, I’m Toni! I’m a software engineer and Maker Mom that finds my joy in unleashing my children’s curiosity by exploring STEAM concepts with my fantastic five!
When I’m not chasing toddlers or raising tweens, you can find me tearing things up and putting them back together over here at Our Family Code.
I am the owner and content creator of multiple educational websites designed to increase access to STEAM & STEM education with a focus on teaching computer science and coding to kids of all ages!
You can also find out more about me by visiting ToniGardner.com!