Tag Archives: math

Colonial Whirlygigs


Grade 5 learns about the Colonial Period and I like to link my art lessons to classroom curriculum when I can. This lesson brings together several areas of learning into one lesson. It is a great STEAM lesson as well because of the motion and the math of a measuring a circle.


In years past, I have used donated cardboard and we had parent helpers cut the discs.


This year, I had some funds in my Artsonia account and used those to purchase round cardboard from Amazon.


Students decorated both sides of the disc. Then punched 2 holes 1-2 finger widths apart in the center of the discs. I had them measure the center and we talked about how we measure circles which tied in to their recent math lesson where they measured the tether ball courts on the playground and learned about pi.


The hammer and nail punching was not necessary with this year’s soft corrugated cardboard but last year, we used donated ram board and that stuff is hard so hammer and nails were a necessity. The kids love trying new tools so this was a way to teach them about and to use a hammer and nails.


I showed them how to string a piece of thread through the discs and tie them off. Then I show them how to make them spin. The students had to do something colorful on one side and the other side could be their choice.


If you make these, be sure to leave time to play at the end of class. My students really enjoyed playing after creating.







My kids love to make these and I am sure there are other people who would love to try them as well. There are lots of versions of a flexagon out there. This is one of many. Below is how we created this version.

To start, cut a strip of paper 1 1/2 inches high and 11 inches long.

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You make the first fold to look like an ice cream cone (about a 60 degree angle).

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When you start folding, each fold looks like it is an equilateral triangle.

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All of the folds go back and forth not around the triangle. We call it accordion style.

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Once all the folds are complete, unfold the strip. You will see all of your folds and the two end flaps which can be cut off.

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Next, count to the third triangle and fold it in the direction of the fold-in this case down.



Count three more triangles and fold it in the direction it naturally folds-in this case upimage (7)


Tuck the flap behind your flexagon.

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You should have two leftover triangles. If you have more than two, cut off the extra.

Put glue on the top two triangles and fold them down and attach them to the hexagon.

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Now it is complete.

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It is fun to draw images on the different sides. In this case, you will have three different image possibilities.

To swap the images, flex and open the hexagon so that new images appear.





Here is how we made the images that we added later….

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