How to make a cardboard helicopter

Written by heather inks
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How to make a cardboard helicopter
Helicopter squadron (Paul Moore/

Cardboard helicopters are a fun activity to do with children. You can incorporate the construction and flying of the helicopters into a lesson plan on gravity. Simple cardboard helicopters can be coloured and customised, allowing children to express themselves artistically and individually. Children will love to fly and share their creations while a teacher or adult explains the basic physics concepts that the helicopters demonstrate.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cardboard
  • Empty cereal boxes
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Card stock
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Marker
  • Crayons
  • Paper clips

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    Basic Cardboard Helicopter

  1. 1

    Cut a strip of cardboard or card stock into a long rectangle; 8-inch-by-1-inch works well. Lightly label one end of the cardboard strip "A" and the other end "B" with a pencil.

  2. 2

    Cut a 1/3-inch slit 2 inches down from the A end on the right side. Cut a 1/3 inch slit 2 inches above the B end on the left side. The cuts should be on opposite sides.

  3. 3

    Hold the ends of the cardboard and twist the cardboard strip in the centre to enable you to bring ends A and B together. Slide the slits together.

  4. 4

    Add a paper clip underneath the joined slits to keep them together and to provide weight for this rudimentary cardboard helicopter. Standard paper clips or butterfly paper clips can be used. Erase labels A and B from the helicopter wings.

  5. 5

    Bend the "wings" slightly and hold up the helicopter. Drop to allow it to fly and twist to the ground. Adjust "wings" and paper clip as needed.

    "Shaped" Cardboard Helicopter

  1. 1

    Download the free helicopter template from Click on the link for the Helicopter Craft Template and then right-click on the worksheet image and select "Save Image As." Save the file to a location that you will remember.

    How to make a cardboard helicopter
    Click on "Save Image As" to download and save free template.
  2. 2

    Print the helicopter craft on standard paper, trace it onto cardboard or card stock, or print directly onto card stock. Cut out the template.

  3. 3

    Customise the helicopter by colouring with crayons, markers, paints, or other craft materials. Consider adding windows and doors to the helicopter.

  4. 4

    Cut two slits in the helicopter along the small lines underneath the wings. The slits will be at slightly different angles.

  5. 5

    Fold the helicopter and insert the slits into each other. Add a paper clip under the slits to hold the helicopter together and add weight for flying. Bend or fold wings out slightly as desired. Hold helicopter in the air and drop to fly. Adjust wings and paper clip as necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • Heavier paper clips work better.
  • The shaped helicopter can be painted after it is built.
  • Take pictures or video of finished and flying helicopters.
  • Use the project to introduce concepts such as gravity, wind resistance, and the effects of surface area on an object's fall.
  • Supervise young children when working with scissors and paper clips to prevent injuries.

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