How to Make a Pinwheel

Four Methods:Printable Pinwheel TemplateCutting and Decorating the Paper for Your PinwheelMaking the WheelAdding the Pin and Stick

Pinwheels are a beautiful decoration and delight children of all ages. Use them to decorate your yard for a party, or happily watch your children as they admire the bright colors whirling together. Crafting a pinwheel is simple and even the smallest children can do most of the steps (though the pin part needs supervision and assistance).

Printable Pinwheel Template

Printable Pinwheel Template

Method 1
Cutting and Decorating the Paper for Your Pinwheel

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    Use a ruler to measure out a 7 by 7-inch (17.5 by 17.5-cm) square on a piece of paper. Draw along the ruler with a pencil. Once you have drawn the square, cut it out with scissors. Because you’ll be folding and coloring over it, you can use any old piece of scrap paper.
    • You can also choose to make your square a different size. The bigger the measurements, the bigger the pinwheel.
    • If you want to avoid scissors for safety reasons, you can cut paper without scissors.
    • You can also purchase 7 by 7-inch square pieces of paper at a craft store. This is a more costly option but saves you the trouble of measuring and cutting. If you buy paper with a pretty pattern, it will also save you the trouble of having to color or paint your paper.[1]
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    Draw four equal squares on the piece of paper. Use a pencil and ruler to get the square dimensions accurate and straight. Because your paper is 7 by 7-inches, the middle of each side of the paper should be 3.5-inches. Do not draw the lines too hard or they will show up under your coloring later.
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    Color in the squares. Make each square a different color. You can get as creative as you like with each square. Here are some ideas for different ways to color the squares:
    • Color each square with a brightly colored marker or pencil.
    • Paint each square.
    • Glue pictures cut from a magazine on each square. Be sure to glue the pictures down firmly.
    • Try different colored foils that you have saved from chocolates or other foods. Glue these on the paper in each square. The foil catches the sun's rays and reflects back beautiful colors.
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    Allow paint or glue (if you used either) to dry. It will be much harder to fold wet paper without it ripping. There is also the chance that glued pieces might get stuck together and then you would have to start over.

Method 2
Making the Wheel

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    Trace four diagonal lines from the corners of the square toward the center. Place a ruler diagonally from one corner of the square so that it runs through the center and touches the opposite corner. Draw a line from the edge of the corner to just 3 centimeter (1.2 in) away from the center. Repeat this for each of the corners so that you have four lines drawn toward the middle and they are all of the same length.
    • Another option is to fold your square in half diagonally and in half diagonally again. Then unfold.
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    Cut along each diagonal line. Don’t cut farther than the lines you’ve traced. Leave 3 centimeter (1.2 in) of uncut space in the center and along each line. Don’t cut the four straight lines you drew to separate the colored boxes.
    • If you chose to fold your square rather than drawing lines, cut along the folded lines until the cuts are 3 centimeter (1.2 in) away from the center.
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    Label each line A, B, C and D. Working clockwise, mark on the same side of each cut; when you’re done, each big triangular flap of the paper should only have one letter on it (as shown below).

Method 3
Adding the Pin and Stick

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    Use a finger to hold edges A, B, C and D to the center of the square. Make sure all four corners are evenly overlapping so that none of them can escape.
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    Push a push-pin into the middle of the edges A, B, C and D. Scoot your finger slightly to the side, then push the pin right through the paper so that each one of the edges sits snugly on top of the other beneath the pin.
    • If you do not have any small pins, you can use a long pin instead, but you will have to push the pin further in the pinwheel.
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    Remove the push-pin and hold the edges down with your finger again. Place a map pin in the hole that has been formed by the push-pin. A map pin is a short pin with a colorful ball on the end. The map pin’s circumference will be slightly smaller than the hole made by the push-pin. This allows the pinwheel to spin.
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    Slide a small bead onto the underside of the pin (the sharp part of the pin that has gone through the paper). Pony beads are too big. This bead forms the other part that permits the windmill to spin between the paper and the stick.[1]
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    Wet the end of a stick and lay it down on a flat surface. Dowels (solid wooden rods) and wooden skewers work well as pinwheel sticks- just make sure to cut the pointy end off. Wet the end of the stick so that the wood does not splinter when you put the pin into it. Don't try to hold the stick as you could drive the pin into your finger.[1]
    • You can paint your stick a bright color beforehand to give your pinwheel more flair. Make sure the paint is dry before attaching it to the wheel.[1]
    • Try using a soft drink straw instead of a stick, so you don't need to hammer anything, just remember to pin across the straw, and then pin a piece of rubber on the other side.
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    Press the pin onto the stick. To prevent the bead from slipping off, you might need to press it with the side of your thumb as you place the pinwheel on the stick.
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    Hammer with care. If the pin is not going into the stick easily, very gently tap the head of the pin with a hammer. Drive the pin into the stick securely. If necessary, fold back any part of the pin that sticks through the other side of the stick. Do this by gently tapping the point of the needle downwards with the hammer so that it lies flat against the stick.
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    Make sure the pin is loose enough to allow the pinwheel to turn. Test it by manually spinning it. It should spin easily.
    • If your pinwheel does not spin freely, pull the pin back out and push it back into the stick, this time leaving more room between the bead and the stick.
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  • Try paper with both a colorful front and back for an even brighter pinwheel.
  • Longer pins may be too long for some windmills so use pliers to snip the end of and hammer the rest down.


  • Hammering the pin into the stick should only be done by a competent person. Children should be supervised at all times if attempting this and keep those fingers out-of-the-way!

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Piece of heavy, quality paper cut into a 7x 7-in / 17.5 x17.5-cm square. 8x8" scrapbooking paper/cardstock works great,too.
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Markers, paints, crayons or magazine pictures (your choice)
  • Paper glue (if gluing on pictures)
  • Push pin
  • Map pin
  • Bead to serve as backing on the pin (match the size)
  • Stick suitable for the handle
  • Hammer

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