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.


Anonymous said...

I would love to make this, but just can't seem to get the measurements right for the felt. Could you please post the measurements for the fabric part? Thanks!

Tamara said...

Sure! This was early on in my tutorial writing, so there are lots of details I probably missed. The felt shape is 3 1/2 inches long (between the ends that connect to the straps), and 2 1/2 inches wide. Let me know if you have any further questions. :)

Marsha Lynn said...

How big is the Goliath poster? And how did you print it out? And how much did that cost?

Anonymous said...

I love this idea for vbs but can't quite figure out how the kids throw the slig shot... do they just hold the loop end and throw it out?

Tamara said...

The loop end goes around a finger or thumb (works best around the middle finger, I think). Then the non-loop end is grasped in the hand. This closes the sling around the ammunition. With both strings together, swing the marshmallow around with the arm over the head (once is enough, but kids like to get fancy and do a few circles for fun) and let the non-looped string loose when the hand is pointing at the target. The loop stays attached to the finger or thumb, the pouch opens up due to the one loosed string, and the marshmallow goes flying while the sling stays put. It takes some practice - my kids and I all ended up with our first shots completely behind us - opposite of where we intended. But once you get the feel of when to release that one string, it gets fun!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

How did you get your photo poster of Goliath to not have David in front of him? Did you modify the photo? If so, would you mind posting? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I made a poster using free software from Picasa. I took a picture of David and Goliath and clicked on "Make a Poster". It asks you what percentage you want to blow it up and I put 800%. It asks what size you want the pieces to be and I put letter size (8.5 x 11). The program then divides the picture into 64 letter size pieces that I printed out. That made a puzzle for the kids to put together. When it is put together it is almost 6 feet by 8 feet. I mounted my puzzle pieces on corrugated cardboard and covered them with clear contact paper so they can be used over and over for many years to come.

Anonymous said...

I just finished this for my church's Trunk or Treat. Thanks for the great idea! As I cannot sew even a stitch, I tried simply cutting the felt at the halfway point. I didn't cut it fully across but simply made a snip on each side. It worked well. I'm having so much fun slinging marshmallows at Goliath, I might not make it to church tonight!

Anonymous said...

I love this idea - only wish I could recreate the Goliath poster!

Tamara Webb said...

I know - the poster has been an issue. I used to provide my modification of the artwork, but ran into copyright problems, which I totally understand. It isn't that difficult to modify yourself, however. In a photo editing program, a matter of copying the side of Goliath obscured by David, flipping that copied section horizontally, then pasting it over David, gets decent results. A little tweaking and you can't even tell. Printing is easy - ask for architectural printing at Staples or any office store and you can get large black & white printing for cheap.

Tamara Webb said...

Oh, and my Goliath is 9ft 6inches tall, based on research I found.

Anonymous said...

This is amazingly creative and a great example of GREAT teaching. Thanks for sharing it!

Jodi Durr said...

I love this and hope to add it to a round-up I'm doing of the best Bible crafts. I would use one picture and link back to your full post and tutorial. This will be going up on my blog, Meaningful Mama. Let me know if this is NOT OK. Most people love the traffic, but if I don't want to use your images without consent.

Tamara Webb said...

Thanks Jodi -I'm glad you like my slings, and I really appreciate your asking before using my images. You are welcome to reference my tutorial and use the requested image on your round-up post. I think your blog is lovely btw!

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Crystal Forman Hayward said...

I'm going to try this next Wed 19th for my bible class. I had made a sling out of leather but it was just one and let each of the kids take turns slinging wadded up paper for stones. Some of them were pretty good with it. thank you for sharing.

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