Paper Pinwheels

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Learn about wind and rotation by creating a paper pinwheel with your child. It’s poke-free – no pins!


What we’re learning & skills we’re building 

  • Aerodynamics – learning about the way air and wind can rotate a pinwheel
  • Measurement – using a ruler to measure where to cut the paper to make a square
  • Fine motor skills – using the small muscles in the hands to hold a pencil and a hole punch
  • Creative expression – making individual decisions about how to decorate the pinwheel



Cutting & Prepping the Paper 

  1. (Optional) Decorate a piece of paper with watercolor paints, markers, or crayons. Let it dry. (You can also decorate the back of the paper, which will be visible once it’s folded. Then let that dry.)
  2. Cut the piece of paper into an 8.5”x8.5” square or smaller. 
  3. From the excess paper, draw two 1” circles and cut them out. 
  4. Use a ruler and a pencil to draw lines from corner to corner on the square, crossing in the center.
  5. Fold the square in half and use a hole punch to make a hole in the center. Unfold and punch holes near the corner of every other point (see close-up photos below). Also punch holes in the centers of the 1” paper circles. 
  6. Cut along the lines you’ve drawn, stopping about 1” from the center each time.

Making the Pinwheel 

  1. Fold the hole-punched corners of the square into the center. Use small looped pieces of tape to attach them so that all of the holes are lined up. 
  2. Wrap one end (about 1”) of the pipe cleaner onto the top of the pinwheel handle. 
  3. Slide one of the paper circles onto the pipe cleaner until it reaches the handle. Then, slide the folded wheel you’ve made onto the pipe cleaner. Now, add the remaining paper circle onto the pipe cleaner. Make sure they’re close together but not too crammed – the wheel needs a tiny bit of space to be able to spin! 
  4. Lay the pinwheel flat with the pipe cleaner sticking up. Cut off a few inches of the pipe cleaner, then twist the rest of it into a circle close to the outside paper circle to finish. 
  5. Test out your pin-less pinwheel by blowing on it! Take it outside and see if it rotates in the wind. Enjoy!