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Playful Pinwheels

Affordable Art for a Sensational Spring

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  • Arts & Humanities
  • Sciences


  • Pre K
  • K-2
  • 3-5

Brief Description

Celebrate the warm winds of spring with a colorful, breezy pinwheel!


Students will
  • study the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy.
  • follow instructions to create a pinwheel.
  • make a unique and original artistic design.
  • use scissors and art supplies appropriately.


art, craft, pinwheel, wind, craft, March, following directions, spring

Materials Needed

  • copy of the Playful Pinwheels work sheet for each student
  • crayons, colored pencils, or markers
  • scissors
  • paper punch (optional)
  • one straw for each student
  • one paper fastener for each student
  • Internet access (optional)

Lesson Plan

Making pinwheels is a simple, colorful, and creative craft that can easily be adapted for use with all age groups, and it links easily to the scientific study of wind energy.

Begin this lesson with a science focus by asking your students to describe a wind farm. What might a wind farm be like? Is there one near your school? What kind of site would it require? In windy areas, large wind turbines are used in groups to harness wind energy and turn it into electricity.

If Internet access is readily available, you may visit a Web page called Wind Energy from Energy Quest to learn more about wind farms and wind turbines. Alternatively, you may print this information in advance of the lesson as a resource for discussion or gather related materials from the school library.

Discuss the difference between a windmill, which grinds or mills grain or pumps water, and a wind turbine, which is used to turn a generator that makes electricity. Also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of wind energy. While it is a very earth-friendly type of energy, it can be less reliable than other resources.

Now relate the motion of a windmill or wind turbine to that of a pinwheel. Pass out copies of the Playful Pinwheels work sheet as well as crayons and scissors.

  • Have the students cut out the squares on their sheets and color both sides in a unique design. (Remind students that portions of the back of the square will be seen from the front once the pinwheel is assembled.)
  • Instruct them to cut on the dotted lines nearly, but not completely, to the center dot.
  • Punch out the four outlined holes on the square or have students punch them out with a hole punch or scissors.
  • Make a hole in the center where the black dot appears.
  • Distribute straws and paper fasteners. For younger students, punch holes near the top of the straws for the students. Older students may do this with scissors on their own. Students will form the pinwheel by bringing the outside triangles of the paper to the center, lining up the holes, and pushing the fastener through the lined-up holes.
  • The ends of the fastener should also be inserted in the hole of the straw and then separated to form a secure hold that is not too tight to allow the pinwheel to spin.
  • Student names can be written on the back of the pinwheel center.
Activity Notes
  • If you choose, the work sheet may be copied on card stock or used as a pattern for students to make pinwheels out of stronger paper.
  • Older students might safely use a pin pushed through the center of the paper and secured in the eraser of a pencil rather than a paper fastener and straw.
  • You might collect and display pinwheels in a Styrofoam base as a simulated "wind farm." Place it near an open window for a dynamic display!


Assessment is achieved through observation during discussion and evaluation of students' success at following directions as evidenced by their finished pinwheels.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Cara Bafile

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts

  • GRADES K - 4

  • NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

  • GRADES 5 - 8

  • NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines


More Resources
We've gathered lesson ideas that are sure to brighten your classroom and plant seeds of learning on our special First Day of Spring page. Click to return to this week's lessons, Affordable Art for a Sensational Spring.

Originally publishes 03/21/2003
Last updated 02/21/2008