How to Make a Simple Cheap Robot That a 6th Grader Can Make

Written by erin maurer
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How to Make a Simple Cheap Robot That a 6th Grader Can Make
Collect empty food containers for this simple, robot craft. (halloween candy in a red Chinese food container image by David Smith from

A robot-building project simple enough for a sixth grader without much supervision uses empty food and takeout containers. Spend a week saving and rinsing out empty containers. By the time the weekend rolls around, there will be a wide array of supplies available for your young student to build a robot. Best of all, he can help his younger siblings complete their own robots.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Empty, square, food container
  • Coloured contact paper
  • Scissors
  • Empty, round, food container
  • Wooden dowel, 1/4-inch 12 inches long
  • Glue
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pencil
  • Buttons
  • Googly eyes
  • 2 soda bottle caps

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  1. 1

    Wash out all food containers and allow them to dry.

  2. 2

    Unroll coloured contact paper flat on the table, face down. Place the square or rectangular food carton on top of the paper. Do not remove the paper's adhesive backing. Wrap the carton as you would wrap a present with wrapping paper. Trim the contact paper to the appropriate size. Remove the adhesive backing and rewrap the container. Run the edge of a pair of scissors over the contact paper to remove air bubbles as you wrap the container.

  3. 3

    Wrap the round container using the method explained in step two.

  4. 4

    Cut a small hole in the top of the square food container. Insert the dowel into the hole. Place a small amount of glue around the dowel at the hole’s opening to secure it in place. Leave at least 4 inches of the dowel sticking out of the square container.

  5. 5

    Cut a small hole in the bottom of the round food container. Fit the end of dowel emerging from the square container into the hole on the round container. Place glue around the outside edge of the hole in the round container to secure the container in place. This forms the head and body of the robot.

  6. 6

    Wrap a pipe cleaner around a pencil to form a spiral. Repeat until you have six spiral pipe cleaners. Use the pencil to poke three holes in the left side of the robot’s body. Poke three holes in the right side of the robot’s body. Insert one pipe cleaner into each hole. Bend sharply at a 90 degree angle to secure the pipe cleaner arms. Further secure by gluing around the edges of the pipe cleaner holes.

  7. 7

    Glue two soda bottle caps to the bottom of the robot’s body to make its feet. Glue eyes to the face. Glue buttons on the body to create the robot’s control panel.

Tips and warnings

  • Substitute a stick for the ¼ inch dowel. You can use square or rectangular containers and boxes to make the robot’s body.
  • Add some coloured contact paper, pipe cleaners, decorative buttons and a healthy dose of glue for some inexpensive robot decorations.

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