Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Toddler Learning Activity: Wind and Pinwheels

Spring is upon us, and with it, awesome changes in the weather to talk about with your kids!  Wind is a fun one.  A little more complicated than snow or rain, because your toddler can't see or touch it, but still a great weather phenomenon to explore.

A pinwheel is a sure-fire hit with kids of all ages.  I remember making pinwheels just for fun when I was in my tweens.  During your wind exploration, try introducing new vocabulary like air, breeze, float, fly, gentle, strong, gust, soft, and (if you use my wind-making cheat below) the difference between hot and cold air.  Experiment with different sizes of pinwheels.  Big ones.  Small ones.  How do they react to the wind?  With older kids, explore how different speeds of air move the pinwheel.    So many questions, so much to explore!

Exacto-knife or scissors
Stick pin
Pencil w/eraser
Pattern (optional)

First, cut a square.  Draw diagonal, criss-cross lines from one corner to the other.

Mine's a 4x4 inch square.

Exacto-knife it part-way through.  Poke holes in the center and in each corner to make the pinwheel turn easier once it's assembled.

Ready the rest of the supplies, aka a pencil w/eraser and a stick pin (I used a picture-hanging nail, because I was fresh out of pins).

Gently bend half of the corners in and secure it with the pin.  Push the back of the pin into the pencil eraser.

Viola.  Instant toy.

The beauty of a wind toy is that it shows that the air is actually moving.  A difficult concept to grasp without a visual aid.  It's a little advanced for most toddlers, so don't worry if they're more interested in the toy than the air that's making it move.  Even if your toddler ends up squishing the pinwheel in his fist, (*cough cough* RIP, my poor pinwheel) that's okay!  There's all different kinds of learning happening here.

I mean, look at that thing MOVE.

So cool.
Sometimes with kids, simplicity is the best way to go.  That way, older kids can make their own.

Oh, and that little wind-making tip?  Here it is:


Awesome.  I'm telling ya'.  Hairdryers make my playtime A-list.


You can have the kids color on the pinwheel with crayons or markers before cutting it out.  Also, decorate with lightweight items like sequins or glitter.  Stay away from heavy stuff like craft jewels and such.

If the pinwheel doesn't turn properly, try using a longer stick pin to give it more room to groove.


-Pattern print-out from craft.kaboose.com

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