David & Goliath Marshmallow Slings

 
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What kid (or adult for that matter) doesn't love the story of David & Goliath?  Triumph of the little guy over the menacing giant? Good conquering evil?  Bravery, faith, loyalty? Heady stuff!  So what would be more fun than re-enacting the epic battle?  I started out researching the kinds of slings that a shepherd would have used.  I didn't want a wrist-rocket style of slingshot, but something a little more authentic, while still being manageable by kids who haven't been actually trained in sling warfare.
The first thing I found out in the function of the sling, is that it must have a loop at the end of one of the strings, while the other does not have a loop.  When using the sling, the operator slips the loop over the middle finger of his or her dominant hand, holding onto the other string.  The sling is swung over the head, then aimed at the target and the loose string is released.  The loop stays put; releasing the other string opens the pouch, and the projectile goes flying. (hopefully in the general direction of the target - most often, not!)

The body of the sling is simply made of felt.  I wanted to use leather for authenticity, but the felt looked really great in the end.  My older kids wanted to make their own and chose wild colors from my supplies, so theirs looked less biblical and more crazy, but whatever!  

I experimented a LOT to get the right shape.  It's basically an oval with the tips cut off flat (final measurements 3 1/2" x 2 1/2").  

Snip in about half an inch at the halfway point, fold over and stitch to create depth.  I sewed it on my machine and it was a piece of cake.  

It's not obvious from the picture, but there are also tiny slits cut on each of the 4 corners - not right on the corner, but in from the edge a little bit.  These are the holes through which you can thread your leather string. 


After the flat body section is sewn, thread leather (or whatever string you want to use) through both slits in one end and knot it tightly.  It will pull in the felt at the ends, which is exactly what you want.  This creates a deep pouch for the marshmallow.  Repeat with the opposite side.

The longer the strings, the more difficult it is to aim, but the more power and distance you can achieve.  So, for the older kids, my strings were around 12 inches, while for my younger ones they were closer to 8 inches long.   Experiment to your liking. 

I should also note that I use the large marshmallows.  The small marshmallows were my original intention, but they are too light-weight and refuse to come out of the pouch. 

 So now that our Davids have slings, they need a Goliath to aim at.  I have seen some very amazing drawings, and some very amusing drawings, that people have done on butcher paper, to represent to kids how big Goliath really was.  I know that this itself is an issue of scholarly debate, but I did a bunch of research and went with the most general consensus for my Goliath's height of 9 3/4 feet.  (He turned out only to be about 9 feet tall, so I made sure he was off the floor a bit to get his eye-level closer.) So anyway, you don't have to go as crazy as I did, a drawn figure on butcher paper for a lesson to use the slings with works great!

I opted to crop & use this amazing image of David & Goliath from lds.org, and thanks to a fantastic friend of mine who is an architect and therefore has one of those huge printers, was able to get my life-sized, super menacing Goliath!  (It was split in half, due to the paper size, so I had to glue/tape the whole thing straight up the middle - scary trying to get it all perfectly lined up!!) (TIP: Since my initial posting, I've heard that Staples will print large architectural size pictures as well for fairly cheap)


My kids had a blast trying to hit Goliath ANYWHERE with their marshmallow slings.  Mostly they hit objects behind them (me - the photographer - being the prime marshmallow pummeled victim). I think more mallows were eaten than fired, when it came to the little ones.  



Watch out Goliath! 

After the fun, we talked about the symbolism of and lessons to be learned from the story.  It was a ton of fun and I've used it in Primary and a couple of FHEs since then.  It's a favorite, which is why I FINALLY got around to sharing!  Hope you have fun with it too!






Here are some other great David & Goliath resources for teaching the story. The video is older, but is still effective.


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