Coffee Filter Parachute

(Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links, Habitot will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)



Sunny and breezy summer days are the perfect time to create a simple coffee filter parachute. Have some fun together while seeing physics in action!

What We’re Learning & Skills We’re Building 

  • Aerodynamics – learning about air & its interactions with objects moving through it 
  • Fine motor skills – using the small muscles in the hands to twist pipe cleaners 
  • Weather conditions – observing what kind of weather conditions help parachutes move, fly, and float
  • Creativity – making decisions about how to decorate both a parachute and a parachuting character



Making the Parachute

  1. Use markers to color or draw on the coffee filter. Let the marker dry before moving on.
  2. Make two tiny holes on opposite sides of the filter. The holes should be about ¼” from the edge. (If you’re worried about the filter tearing, add a small piece of tape on each side of it, then punch the holes through each piece of tape.) 
  3. Loop one end of a pipe cleaner through one of the holes (the long end of the pipe cleaner facing down). Twist the short end to attach it. Then loop and twist the other end to the opposite hole. This will be a U-shaped parachute handle.
  4. Create a parachuting character using another pipe cleaner. Make a loop for the head. Twist the pipe cleaner at the center to make the body, legs, and arms. (Make sure the arms are at least 1¼” long so you have enough to twist the ends around the parachute handle.)
  5. Place the character at the center of the parachute handle and twist its hands around it. Try to make each side the same size.
  6. Stand on a short stool or chair and gently toss the parachute into the air to see how it flies (or doesn’t). It might fly better outside. If it seems to crash down really quickly or fail to fly, experiment with the positioning of the handle and the character.

Learning & Experimenting 

Talk with your child about what makes the parachute fly or float, or what might cause it to fall faster to the ground. Ask, “What weather conditions help a parachute fly or float? What’s the best size and shape for a parachute? What might happen if we add more weight to the parachute or the parachute character?” Brainstorm what could be added or removed to change the way the parachute moves. Try dropping it near a fan to see how its movement changes.