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Easy Toddler Safe Pinwheel Tutorial

This popular article and video will show you exactly how to make a safe pinwheel for kids of any age. This is a great activity for parties, play dates, classrooms, and just some good, old-fashioned fun!
How to Make Pinwheels Without Pins Tutorial _ You CAN make pinwheels that spin safe for all ages.

Pin-Free Pinwheels (STURDY Pinwheels)

My child adores pinwheels. Pinwheels are easy to make and I have a love of crafting, but, there’s one problem: I don’t want to give my toddler something that could draw blood if disassembled. And like most, my kid likes to take things apart.  

Here’s a tutorial to spend 5-minutes crafting a completely safe pinwheel for small children. There is no pin or thumbtack used in this craft. And if you are a skeptic, thinking, “oh, it’ll never spin,” I’ve included a video below – it REALLY SPINS! 

UPDATE: We’ve been playing with these pinwheels for more than 3 years – only the straws need to be replaced. This is one of the best crafts we’ve EVER made!

To make it a unit study or educational opportunity, see our article, “Pinwheel Books and Activities.”




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Supplies for Easy Pinwheels Without Pins

This takes almost no time at all. Most of you will probably have everything you need on hand.   

  • craft foam or cardstock (you only need a 5-inch x 5-inch square) and small bearings
  • pipe cleaner (1/2 of one)
  • stapler or glue dots (these make this craft SO easy)
  • hole punch and scissors
  • paper straw
  • a measuring device (ish.. – we’re making pinwheels not rockets)
  • pony beads (if pipe cleaner isn’t strong enough to hold the pinwheel) 
pinwheel-tutorial-safe-for-children
 

By the way, all of our pipe cleaners are askew like the one in the photo ever since the “bird’s nest” incident. We have about 1,000 pipe cleaners for crafting and activities, and Every. Single. One. was taken out of their packages and craft box by little miss, “I’m just going to build a bird’s nest while you cook dinner.” 

Making-A-Bird-Nest

How to Make a Pinwheel Without a Pin

Watch this SUPER quick pinwheels without pins video tutorial to show how quickly these come together. And how they really spin!

Cut the Pin-Free Pinwheel

Cut out a 5-inch by 5-inch square from the craft foam or paper. 

Fold corner-to-corner in so that you have diagonal lines an “x” formed by the folded creases. Note – an x, not a +. 

You can run a pencil eraser or credit card along the lines to get the folds a little sharper, if you need to.

fold-foam-for-pinwheel-fins


Find your center (the spot where the two creases intersect), and punch a hole in the center of the pinwheel (as close to center as you can so that the paper pinwheel spins and is balanced).


Find-center-and-punch-hole


Next, cut the creases to about an inch from the center (meaning: until you have about an inch left on the crease near the center of the square–just look at the photo below). This is pinwheel crafting, not astrophysics, so eyeball it.


Once you’ve cut the fins for the pinwheel, put a hole through the {almost} tips of every other one. This is a warning: if you get too close to the tip of the fin, it won’t stay attached or your foam will tear. 

punch-holes-in-fins

Assemble the Safe Pinwheel

I only own one stapler. This is the stapler that I’ve had since my freshman year of undergraduate school. Yep – I’ve held onto that bad boy for 5* years! 

*more like 20. 


Anyway, as weird as it is that I don’t own a grown-up stapler, let’s move onto the reason we’re here. Get your stapler ready… 


Fold each fin to the center point, line up the circles and staple. Didn’t see that coming, did ya? The second photo below is supposed to illustrate that you might need to staple the layer you’re putting down the layer just below it. If you recall, the video is proof that this works, so no doubtsies.

This is the step that you would USUALLY put a pin through the center of the pinwheel.

UPDATE: I used glue dots instead of the staples, per a reader’s suggestion, and it works perfectly! Just be sure none of the glue dot covers any of the center hole.  

staple-pinwheel-fins


If you were to stick an axle through the pinwheel now, I might work for a bit. But, it’s better if you listen to my brilliant hunk-o-husband. 

It was late – like, really late – and I was getting beyond frustrated with my functioning-but-not-all-the-time-pinwheel. The husband comes into my craft room, looks at it and simply says: you need a bearing (or a washer, I can’t remember). 


What I can remember is that’s just “man speak” for the next step. Cut out two 1-inch circles and punch a hole in their centers. 


I prefer the lazy crafter method of circle cutting foam, which is get something and press it into the foam to make a circle. The lid from an XL glue stick from my daughter’s glue box works.  

bearings-for-tot-safe-pinwheel


Now that you have your pieces, grab the 1/2 of a pipe cleaner and the straw or dowel. You want to make a “ball” on one end by tightly wrapping the pipe cleaner a few times around the straw. Slip it off the straw once you’ve wrapped it around 3 times. 

wrap-pipe-cleaner

Thread a bearing/washer/manly thing onto it. So now you have your fins piece, and a manly circle attached to the pipe cleaner. You also have a straw and another manly circle. Thread the pipe cleaner into the front of the fins (the bit with the fronts of the staples). Then, thread the other manly blue circle on the end of the pipe cleaner behind the fins. 

The order should be pipe cleaner (ball end), circle, fins, circle, and end of pipe cleaner. Once you have that, grab your straw and wrap the pipe cleaner around it until there is about an inch (or so) left between the fins and the straw. And you’re done with your totally safe pinwheel that really spins! 

assemble-pieces
 
NOTE: some pipe cleaners aren’t strong enough to support the pinwheel without dipping. If yours isn’t, thread some pony beads (you know, that small bead made of plastic that makes the ridiculously cute kid-necklaces–yeah, those) and add them behind the back bearing like the picture below.

Turns out that, if you were making a traditional pinwheel, this is where you’d slide a bead onto the pin. So, these two tutorials are pretty similar in that respect.

 
Kid safe pinwheel
 
Yield: 1

Toddler Safe Pinwheel Tutorial

Pinwheel no pin Pin Free Pinwheel

This popular article and video will show you exactly how to make a safe pinwheel for kids of any age. This is a great activity for parties, play dates, classrooms, and just some good, old-fashioned fun!

Prep Time 2 minutes
Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $1

Materials

  • craft foam or cardstock (you only need a 5-inch x 5-inch square) and small bearings
  • pipe cleaner (1/2 of one)
  • paper straw
  • pony beads (if pipe cleaner isn’t strong enough to hold the pinwheel)

Tools

  • stapler or glue dots (these make this craft SO easy)
  • hole punch and scissors
  • a measuring device (ish.. – we’re making pinwheels not rockets)

Instructions

  1. Cut out a 5-inch by 5-inch square from the craft foam or paper. 
  2. Fold corner-to-corner in so that you have an “x” formed by the folded creases. Note – an x, not a +. 
  3. Find your center (the spot where the two creases intersect), and punch a hole. 
  4. Next, cut the creases until you have about an inch left on the crease near the center hole (photo below). This is pinwheel crafting, not astrophysics, so eyeball it. 
  5. Once you’ve cut the fins for the pinwheel, put a hole through the {almost} tips of every other one. This is a warning: if you get too close to the tip of the fin, it won’t stay attached or your foam will tear.

Assemble the Safe Pinwheel

  1. Fold each fin to the center point, line up the circles and staple.
  2. Cut out two 1-inch circles and punch a hole in their centers. 
  3. Now that you have your pieces, grab the 1/2 of a pipe cleaner and the straw or dowel. You want to make a “ball” on one end by tightly wrapping the pipe cleaner a few times around the straw. Slip it off the straw once you’ve wrapped it around 3 times. 
  4. Thread a bearing/washer/manly thing onto it. So now you have your fins piece, and a manly circle attached to the pipe cleaner. You also have a straw and another manly circle.
  5. Thread the pipe cleaner into the front of the fins (the bit with the fronts of the staples). Then, thread the other manly blue circle on the end of the pipe cleaner behind the fins. 
  6. The order should be pipe cleaner (ball end), circle, fins, circle, and end of pipe cleaner. Once you have that, grab your straw and wrap the pipe cleaner around it until there is about an inch (or so) left between the fins and the straw. And you’re done with your totally safe pinwheel that really spins!
  7. Kid safe pinwheel

Notes

Some pipe cleaners aren’t strong enough to support the pinwheel without dipping. If yours isn’t, thread some pony beads and add them behind the back bearing.

Did you make this?

Please leave a comment or share a photo and tag me @rufflesandrain

Wasn’t That So Easy?!

In addition to just enjoying them, we’ve also used our growing pinwheel collection to talk about the power of wind and even Newton’s 3rd law. As a refresher, that one is an equal and opposite reaction. Basically, the force of the air forces rotational motion as it presses against the ‘fan blades.’ 

We have a no-pin pinwheel craft without pins – they’re safe for young children! Woo-hoo! I’m going to include them in our party favor bags at our Independence Day playdate. What will you do with yours?


Easy-pinwheel-tutorial-for-kids
 
If you liked this kid safe pinwheel tutorial, we’d be thankful if you took the time to share it on Facebook or Pinterest. We love social media and would love it if you stayed connected to Ruffles and Rain Boots!
 
Make these kid safe, pin free pinwheels with just a few supplies. They last forever and really spin!
This is such a fun craft! Scratch art rock painting is easy, fun, and you already have everything you need.

You might also be interested in this fun, colorful activity for kids: scratch art painted rocks!

Laura Dennis

Monday 19th of March 2018

You had me at "no pins." What a great idea. I don't have any young children, but I think I need to make a bunch of pin wheels anyway.

N

Thursday 25th of May 2017

This really works! Thanks so much, saved just in the nick of time.....when we were done putting splot pins through and it didn't even spin! Shared your idea with a couple of classes! Thanks for video too!

Sarah Nenni-Daher

Thursday 25th of May 2017

Thank you so much for sharing the idea! We still have 4 of them floating around (they really do last, even with young kids).

Christina

Tuesday 7th of June 2016

Thanks so much for the great idea. My Cloverbuds in our 4H club will make these for our July meeting!

Sarah Nenni-Daher

Wednesday 8th of June 2016

So happy to hear you'll be making these. Our neighbor came over last week and we whipped up a few for her 2 year old twins - needless to say, they loved them!

Bethany

Saturday 14th of May 2016

Love this. I am using glue dots instead of staples, doing slight variations on shapes for the "washers," and this will be a make-your-own party favor and activity for my daughter's birthday. Thank you!

linda looo

Friday 17th of July 2015

great washer idea and lifting the pinwheel away from the straw!!!!! need to make a pinwheel that can withstand outside elements,,,,,,,,thin copper and a real washer! wish me luck!!

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