Fly a paper helicopter

This simple paper toy spins through the skies at breakneck speed, just like a real helicopter!

 

Create a simple homemade helicopter with your child, teaching them about complex concepts in a fun and easy way.

Instructions

  1. Download and print out our illustrated template. We recommend using A4 paper, but you can scale up or down if you like. You could also decorate and colour the paper in before you start. If you do, the colours will collide and dance as the helicopter spins!
  2. Help your child to fold.
  3. Fold flap A towards you, and flap B away from you.
  4. Fold C and D over each other, so they overlap.
  5. Fold the bottom up, and secure it with a paper clip.
  6. Ask your child why they think the paper clip is useful. If they are unsure, you can explain to them that the clip holds everything in place. If they are old enough to start learning about gravity and motion, you can also tell them that the clip adds a little weight. This increases the amount of air resistance acting on the helicopter, and therefore increases the speed at which it falls.
  7. It’s time to fly! Take it in turns to throw the helicopter, pushing it as high and far as you can. It will spin to the floor at dazzling speed!
  8. We recommend standing on a chair, or at the top of the stairs to drop the helicopter. With your assistance, your child could also try throwing it out of the window.

 

Top tips

Use this additional information – which we’ve translated into simple, logical language – to help explain what’s happening to the helicopter, and why, to your child.

Q: Why does the helicopter spin?

When the helicopter falls, air pushes up against the blades, bending them a little. When air pushes upwards on the slanted blade, some of that thrust becomes a sideways push.

Q: Who invented the helicopter?

People have been dreaming of helicopters for centuries and centuries, but had to wait for the right technology to be invented before they could turn those dreams into reality. Igor Sikorsky, a Russian American aviation pioneer, designed the very first successful helicopter in the late 1930s. He was inspired by the artist Leonardo da Vinci, who drew pictures of an aircraft with a spinning wing nearly five hundred years before Igor was even born!

Q: What’s the difference between an aeroplane and a helicopter?

Helicopters can do things aeroplanes can’t. They can move straight up or down. They can take off or land without a runway. They can turn in the air in ways aeroplanes cannot. They can fly backwards. They can fly sideways. They can also hover in one spot in the air without moving.

  • Cost
  • Cheap
  • Time Needed
  • 30 minutes
  • You will need
  • A piece of paper, scissors, a paper clip, access to a printer to print out the template
  • Skills developed
  • Logic, creativity
  • Perfect for
  • High fliers