It’s time to make a simple paper toy today: Let’s learn how to make a whirligig! This is a 5-minute paper craft that illustrates dynamics to kids.
How does the shape of an object affect how it moves in space? Well, cut a spiral piece of paper, open it up, and watch how it picks up the motion of air around it.
These paper whirligigs will start spinning with the slightest disturbance of air near them. Kids can also run around with them and watch as the whirligig twists wildly with wind velocity! When they kids are tuckered out from running, hang the whirligigs outside and watch them dance in the sweet little fall breezes.
How to Make a Whirligig
Age Appropriateness: 4+, basic cutting skills required
- Thick Paper– I recommend a medium weight card stock. Lightweight paper will stretch too much and deform.
- WHIRLIGIG Template
- Hole Punch
- String or Yarn
- Step One Print out the template and lay it over a sheet of card stock.
- Step Two Holding the two sheets together cut out the large circle, then cut along the spiral line. To help keep these together you can tape the circle template to the circle of card stock before cutting the spiral.
- Step Three Punch a hole in the center of the topmost spiral.
- Step Four Tie a string through the center
You’re done! Now that you know how to make whirligig, make a few more. Go run around the yard with them or hang them up and watch them dance! If they twist up on you gently lay them down, rearrange the spirals so everything is flat, then pull up again on the string.
This project made me think of Alexander Calder mobiles. In the world of kinetic artists he ranks close to the top. His mobiles are truly wondrous to watch gently sway back and forth. I’ll never forget the first time I saw an enormous Calder mobile in person at the National Gallery of Art: color, physics, and art combined in a stunning sculpture.
Did you know that the word mobile actually originated to describe Calder’s sculptures? It’s true! Read all about it on Wikipedia. He invented this art form/object that is now considered commonplace in baby rooms and modern living rooms throughout the world! Our whirligigs are missing the balancing component of a true mobile, but they have the illustration of simple dynamics in common.
Learning how to make a whirligig was a welcome addition to the growing list of paper toys we’ve made here on Babble Dabble Do. What I loved about making a whirligig was the simplicity of the project. The whirligig proves that paper crafts do not need to be complicated to be engaging.