Tag Archives: Whirligigs

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.





Colonial Whirligigs



Fifth grade students learn much about the colonial and revolutionary period of America. For this lesson, I focused on Colonial toys. I showed them several different kinds of toys. The ball and cup was easily recognized though they all thought it was a strange looking kendama.


We used donated cardboard floor covering, paint and string. I also used wax paper squares to lay the art on while it dried.


I gave each student a plastic lid and a square of cardboard. They painted whatever they wanted onto the circle. They could divide it into fractions, paint famous art, paint colors that would blend together, paint patterns, etc.

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Once painted, they poked holes in the centers with a hammer and nail and threaded string through the holes, tying the string together. Once the string is attached, they spin the disk by twisting up the string and then releasing it. There are a lot of sites with colonial games you can make just search for them.

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