What is a Pinwheel?

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  • Written By: Y. Chen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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A pinwheel is a classic child's toy that looks like a small wheel attached to a handle. The most basic way of making them is pinning a piece of folded paper to the end of a stick. When the contraption is held up into the wind, the folded paper will spin. Nowadays, pinwheels come in a variety of color combinations, sizes, and materials. Retailers sell them at very cheap prices and they are often bought as party favors or appear on fashion accessories.

Children are often taught how to make a pinwheel in school, but instructions can also be found in craft books and on the Internet. It requires only a few minutes and simple materials to create, making them an ideal recreational project. Once completed, the pinwheel can provide simple and quiet amusement for children. The pinwheel can either be blown on or held up to the wind in order to spin.

The materials needed to assemble a simple pinwheel include a pin, a piece of square construction paper, a pair of scissors, and something for a handle. This can be a straw or any stick that a pin can puncture through. Then follow the instructions below:


    1. Flatten the square piece of construction paper on a surface and draw a diagonal line from each corner to the opposite corner.
    2. Mark the intersection of these two lines at the center of the square and punch a small hole through it.
    3. Cut along each line stopping about an inch from the hole in the square's center.
    4. Punch a tiny hole in the top left corner of each of the four flaps. Make sure that no two holes are next to each other.
    5. Take the punched corner flaps and carefully curve them over toward the center hole without creasing. Secure them with the pin.
    6. Once all four flaps are held by the pin, lift the paper without unfurling the flaps. Finally, push the point of the pin into the handle (straw, stick, etc.).

Besides using paper for pinwheel material, toy manufacturers have found ways to construct blades out of other materials like metallic film and transparent plastic, usually polycarbonate. These variations make the pinwheel lighter and sturdier, respectively. In addition, the blades of the pinwheel can be treated to have a holographic or translucent design. Instead of the handheld prototype, some toy makers have also been pushing limits into making gigantic pinwheels, which can be used for outdoor decor.


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Post 4

Pinwheels are a great way to teach students about angles and different geometric shapes. Find some pinwheel templates online and ask the students to find the best angles for catching the wind.

You don't just have to use squares. You can make pinwheels out of lots of different shapes.

You could even hold competitions for the students to see who can come up with the pinwheel that catches the wind the best. This teaches innovation as well as basic mathematics.

Plus it is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Post 3

You can also get pinwheels made out of metal. Not necessarily for use in the wind, but for jewelry and other decorations.

You can make metal ones for use in the wind though. Use a few soda cans and some tin cutters or sturdy scissors to make the same shapes you would make with paper.

Bear in mind that most soda cans will have designs on one side of the metal.

You can also experiment with the shapes a bit more than with paper, as the metal will hold its shape better.

Remember to wear gloves. The metal can be sharp.

Post 1

Simple and easy. Liked it.

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