Exploring the Wind: Pinwheels

One of the things on my "to-do" list for our week exploring the wind was to play with pinwheels. Our favorite book of the week, Gilberto and the Wind by Ets, is chock full of different ways that one little boy plays with his friend Wind. So, when I suggested to Silas one afternoon that we make pinwheels his response was, "just like Gilberto!"

This was also an opportunity for Silas to practice his scissor skills. This was the first time that he's ever used them, actually. I gave him a quick demonstration, pointed out some safety rules and provided him with long strips of paper to cut and he was completely occupied while I cut the paper for our pinwheels.

There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to make a pinwheel, so I'm sure you don't need one more from me (I mostly followed this one). The one step, though, that wasn't in all tutorials, but should have been, is the inclusion of a bead between the back of the paper and the pencil eraser. It helps dramatically with how well the pinwheel is able to turn.

For the paper, I used pages from our precious past year's Nikki McClure calendar. Silas chose which images we should use.

They are blank on the backside, which is perfect for a project like this. I broke out the crayons to decorate the blank side; a good opportunity to practice covering the page with solid color with the block crayons.

Then outside we went where the wind was strong and gusty. At age three, science activities should be all about experience and observation, in my opinion. Silas figured out on his own how to hold the pinwheel so that it would catch the wind and intuitively experimented with holding them out and up to get them to spin faster. 

I wish you could hear his exclamation of joy in this photo! "Whoa-ho-ho!"

When interest started to wane, I asked him what he thought might happen if he ran while holding his pinwheel.

We made five and when gathered together, they made a lovely bouquet for our dinner table during these early spring days when our flowers are still just little green shoots tentatively poking through the ground.

Silas is 3-years-old.


  1. Cute! We are big wind fans around here, since my husband works with wind turbines, so we have spent plenty of hours talking about and finding ways to explore the wind. We love pinwheels, though we haven't played with them for a while. Might be a good project to get back out again. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Definitely putting that book on our library list. Such a fun idea! Thanks for sharing. :)