Jingle Jangle Flying Machine – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
MS-ETS1-4, Fab-Safety.1, Fab-Fabrication.1, Fab-Design.1

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Nettrice Gaskins
Nettrice Gaskins
Dr. Nettrice Gaskins has worked for several years in K-12 and post-secondary education, community media and technology before receiving a doctorate in Digital Media from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014. She has focused on the application of cultural art… Read More


This lesson was inspired by the musical fantasy film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, specifically the main character Jeronicus Jangle who is an inventor, toymaker, and owner of Jangles and Things. Among the toys seen in the film are mechanical devices or automata, which are designed to automatically do something such as fly. Students will create a flying machine or ornithopter, a rubber band powered device that flies by flapping its wings.



What You'll Need

Teacher Notes: This project can be created at home using found and low-cost materials. You will see some materials listed with lower cost alternatives.


Key Vocabulary 




wing spar

wing (membrane)


Materials List


Balsa wood or wooden coffee stirrers

Metal (music) wire or paper clips


Pencil, pen or thin marker

Craft glue

Long rubber bands (ex. used for model airplanes)

Tissue paper

Scissors and/or craft cutting tool

Thin drinking straw or bead

Plastic earring backs 

Thin plywood (optional)

Wire cutter (optional)

Needle nosed pliers (optional)

Glue gun/glue sticks (optional)

Super glue (optional)



The Instructions

Preparation and Setup

Gather all of your materials and prepare to build the machine.

Collect all of your materials. Then cut out all of your wood pieces in the following quantities and lengths*


For the Machine Body

one 5 in. x 3/4 in. x ¼ in. 

one ½ in. x ¼ in. x ¼ in. 


For the Machine Tail

two 5 in. x ¼ in. x ¼ in. stick

one 1 in. wide (¾ in. opposite side) x ¼ in. thickness 


For the Machine Wings

two 8 in. x x ¼ in. x ¼ in.

two 7 in. x ¼ in. x ¼ in.

two 2 in. x ¼ in. (thin balsa or plywood)

one 2¾ in. x ¼ in. (thin balsa or plywood)


*The width for each stick is around ¼ inches.


Straighten and cut metal wire into the following quantities and lengths:


one 2 1/4 in. wire

two 2 in. wire

one 1 1/4 in. wire


Cut 1 5/4 in. thin tubing or a thin drinking straw


Print out paper supports PDF handout (you can also re-draw it using a ruler).

Motivating Activity

Learn about automaton/automata as toys and the ornithopter or flying machine.

Watch Jingle Jangle and/or read about Leonardo da Vinci’s ornithopter design: http://www.leonardo-da-vinci.net/ornithopter

Make the Wire Tail Hook and Crank

Use metal wire to make hooks that hold and wind up a rubber band to power your machine.

Bend your wires as shown in the picture (step 4) and PDF. Use pliers or another tool to bend the wire. Only bend the curved sides of the tail hook and crank wires. You will need to insert them to finish bending the other wire ends.

Make the Body of the Machine

You need to make the body of the machine and add the tail hook.

Make a tiny hole in one end of your 5 in. x 3/4 in. stick and push wire tail hook through. Bend the wire and glue into place (see photo). Glue the 1 in. piece of wood to the other end to support the wire crank.


Make the Tail of the Machine

The tail stabilizes the machine.

Cut a section from the center of the shorter side to fit the body of the machine (see photo). Glue the two 5 in. x ¼ in. sticks to the side of the 1 in. wood piece. Once dry attach and glue the tail structure to the machine body.

Add the Tube or Bead

The tube/bead holds the crank wire.

Insert the wire crank/hook into the tube or bead; then glue the tube or bead on to the smaller piece of wood on the body of the machine. Note: Make sure the wire crank can turn freely (360 degrees).

Glue the Wing Supports

The paper supports hold the rigid wing structure in place.

Print out or draw and cut out the paper wing supports (see PDF). Glue the two curved pieces together, making sure to line up the edges of the short and longer pieces. 


Make the Wing Spars

The membrane wing consists of a spar, at the leading edge of the wing and down the center.

Glue the 8 in. and 7 in. pieces of wood to the paper support, using the guides (see PDF). 


Drill holes at one end of each 2 in. plywood stick, making sure to match the holes with the arrows on the paper support (see PDF).