How to make a model of a helicopter out of recycled things

Written by heather inks
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Children are fascinated with helicopters, aeroplanes, rockets and other objects that can fly. Making miniature representations of helicopters is a great way to use art to complement a lesson on the concept of gravity or modes of transportation. Creating helicopters out of recycled things from around the home, like toilet paper tubes, is inexpensive. It teaches children to be imaginative and models a simple way to reuse and recycle.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 2 toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue
  • Markers
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Newspaper

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  1. 1

    Cut a 1-inch ring off the end of a toilet paper tube with scissors. The ring will flatten during cutting; simply pop it open after cutting. This will be the helicopter body.

  2. 2

    Cut a 1/2-inch cardboard ring off the end of the toilet paper roll. Press flat, and cut open one end at the fold. The piece will look like an alligator mouth. This is the tail for the helicopter.

  3. 3

    Cut two 1/4-inch rings off the toilet paper tube, and press flat into strips. These will be the landing gear for the helicopter body.

  4. 4

    Cut four 1/2-inch rings off the toilet paper tube. Press each flat, and separate them into two pairs. Insert one strip into the other strip, creating an X. Glue the inside strip to the outside strip. Repeat for the other pair. You have two propellers for the helicopter.

  5. 5

    Cut two 1-by-1/2-inch rectangles from the toilet paper tube. Fold each one to make a 1/2-inch square piece that looks like a little book. Close one book over one cover of the other book to create an S-shaped spring. Glue the inner pieces together to make the S-shaped spring permanent.

  6. 6

    Attach the 1/2-inch strip that looks like an alligator mouth to the helicopter body by gluing the inside top about a half inch from the helicopter's centre top. Then glue the inside bottom of the alligator mouth strip to the bottom of the helicopter body, about a half inch from the centre of the body. Now you will have the helicopter's body and tail.

  7. 7

    Glue one propeller to the top of the S spring. Glue the bottom of the S spring to the top of the helicopter body.

  8. 8

    Glue the remaining helicopter propeller to one side of the tail.

  9. 9

    Lay the two 1/4-inch strips, or landing gear, parallel and 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart. Place a few drops of glue on the centre of each. Press the helicopter body down onto these landing gear strips.

  10. 10

    Use paint or markers to colour the helicopter made of out recycled things.

Tips and warnings

  • Spread newspaper out before painting or colouring the helicopter model, to keep the table surface clean and for easy cleanup.
  • Use hot glue or a glue that dries quickly, almost instantly, to complete this helicopter model craft properly.
  • Don't allow children or students to use hot glue guns without adult supervision. For very small children, the teacher or parent will need to do all the gluing.

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