Pinwheels are a nostalgic favorite that have delighted kids for generations. They are so simple to make and with a little imagination you can find new ways to use these clever little whirligigs for parties, decorations and good old-fashioned fun! Since they are so quick to make, you could make a bunch of giant ones in coordinating colors and stick them in flower pots around the patio to create festive party décor. Or make a dozen mini pinwheels in just one hour and stick one each in the top of a cupcake for a unique summer birthday decoration! Once you learn the basic construction you can experiment with different weights of paper, plastic and foam cutouts.
Level of Difficulty: Medium – For ages 6+ with minimal adult supervision.
Estimated Completion time: Each pinwheel takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to make! So quick and so colorful – make a dozen!!
List of Materials you will need:
– Sturdy Paper or Cardstock – colored or printed on both sides
– Sturdy Paper Straws – find decorative ones at craft stores, cooking stores and even at specialty grocers!
– Wooden Dowel – 3/16” diameter–approximately 16” per pinwheel
– Straight Pins with a colored ball end
– Craft scissors
– Craft Pliers
Step 1: Collect your supplies; choose papers that are sturdy but pliable and have color on both sides. It’s especially fun when the paper has contrasting colors on the two sides. The big pinwheel example in aqua and pink is actually made from an old file folder that was worn out – instead of tossing it in the trash it was cut down to size and reused.
Step 2: Cut a piece of paper to 6” square for a small pinwheel, 7” for medium and 8” for large. (For mini pinwheels as cupcake toppers try a 3-1/2” or 4” square)
Step 3: Use a ruler and pencil to draw a straight line across the middle of the paper from opposite corners. Then turn and draw a second line across the first one, connecting the other two corners. Where these meet is the center of the paper.
Step 5: Once you’ve made a few of these you may want to experiment with shaping the “blades” of the pinwheel or using different types of paper or plastic. Here’s how you would cut a rounded edge pinwheel.
Step 8: Now pin it all together. Use a straight pin with a ball head. Pin from the front of the pinwheel, through all layers and through the top of a thick paper straw. Go through the straw about 3/8” from the end.
Step 9: Use a needle-nose pliers to bend the pin in half. This secures the pinwheel to the straw. Bend the pin a second time and stick the end back into the straw to secure it and so that won’t get poked!
Step 10: Cut your dowel to the length that you want for your handle – 15” to 18” is good. Stick the dowel inside the opposite end of the straw up to where it meets the pin. This helps the straw stay rigid and strong. The dowel is longer than the straw and some will stick out the bottom – you can wrap this with decorative tape or another straw if you don’t want the wood to show.
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