In china they are called ‘zhuqingting’, in Japan they are called ‘taketombo’ (wikki link), but at our house they are called ‘spinny things’ and they are loads of fun to make and kinda addictive to play with!
Usually they are made out of bamboo stick with a carved bamboo blade, but you can make your own from a bamboo skewer and a paper blade.
To make your own bamboo helicopter you’ll need:
- Bamboo skewers – the kind you use for cooking.
- Light card board – old cereal boxes work well.
- Glue – for the paper
- Hot glue or PVA (white) glue – for the skewer.
- Markers – for decorating
- Our free printable helicopter blade template.
The helcopter blade template has three blades on the one A4 sheet. One has the the swirl pattern and the other two are blank so you can add whatever designs you like.
This printable is an A4 sized pdf file, you will need a pdf reader such as adobe acrobat to open it. If you are printing on US ‘letter sized’ paper be sure to select ‘fit’ or ‘shrink to fit’ from your printer options.
Please remember that the printables at picklebums.com are for personal use only, you may not sell, share, or link directly to these files.
The ‘blades’ of your helicopter need to be light, but they also need to hold their shape. Regular printer paper is too flimsy so you’ll need to print the blade onto some cardstock, or glue it onto some light cardboard such as the side of an old cereal box, and then cut it out.
Colour in the blade of your helicopter or add some cool designs. Remember to do the top and bottom of the blade.
When your blade is ready make a small hole in the centre and insert the bamboo skewer. Add a few drops of hot glue or PVA (white glue) to the top and bottom to hold the skewer in place and let it dry.
To make your helicopter fly hold the skewer between your palms and rub your hands together to make it twirl around. As you rub your palms together and spin the helicopter move it up and away from your body and let it go when it is spinning as fast as possible!
It may take a few tries to figure out how to make it fly and be warned, sometimes the helicopters fly back into your face which is not very much fun. We found rounding the corners of the blade just a little made face crashes hurt less!
These simple little toys are said to have inspired the first man made flying machines and I can see why, it’s such a simple design that captured my kids imaginations and was heaps of fun to make and play with.