How to make a working traffic light

Traffic light red    Traffic light amber    Traffic light green

One of Eddie’s teachers handed him a wrapping-paper tube with the challenge “see what you can make out of this”. By the time we arrived home, he had planned a traffic light, made by attaching a shoebox to the tube and “putting electricity in it so it changes colour”. After debating many options, we decided that a rotating Pringles tube would do the job.

What we used

  • Wrapping-paper tube
  • Small shoebox (lid removed)
  • Pringles tube or similar
  • Dark-coloured paper
  • Red, yellow and green paper (or felt-tips to colour white paper)
  • Strong sticky tape
  • Scissors and craft knife

How we made it

  1. At one end of the shoebox, draw around the Pringles tube and then cut out the circle using a craft knife to create a hole to slide the tube into. At the opposite end of the shoebox, draw around the wrapping-paper tube then pierce the centre and cut into quarters to create flaps. Slide wrapping paper tube just inside and attach by fixing the flaps to the tube with strong sticky tape.
  2. Wrap the Pringles tube in dark-coloured paper. Insert the tube, open-end first, into the shoebox (our shoebox was small enough that the tube stuck out the top enabling you grip it to twist it round). The open end will rest over the top of the wrapping paper tube.
  3. Cut three holes for the traffic lights in the front of the shoebox using a craft knife.
  4. Cut a circle out of red, green and yellow paper (make these slightly bigger than the holes cut in the shoebox).
  5. So that you know where to stick the coloured circles, mark with a pencil through the top hole on the shoebox, then rotate the tube and mark through the middle hole and then rotate once more and mark through the bottom hole. Stick the coloured circles in order – red, amber, green.
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