Paper Helicopters
Ages: 4-10

If you have ever made a paper airplane, you know the best part is seeing how well it can fly! You can also make a helicopter out of paper! When you drop the paper helicopter it will spin down to the ground.

A real helicopter works a little differently since the blades can rotate very quickly and create enough lift for it to fly. Our paper helicopters won’t be able to do that, but they can float slowly down to the ground because they are spinning. This rotation is not fast enough to lift them up, but it is enough to slow down how quickly they fall. This makes a fun helicopter effect!


  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Paper Clip


  1. Start by cutting a rectangle from one side of your sheet of paper. It should be about 3-4 inches wide and the length of the short side of the paper (8 ½”).
  2. Cut a slit lengthwise in the middle of the rectangle. Don’t cut all the way down the length of your rectangle; just cut a little less than halfway.
  3. About an inch or so below the long slit, cut a small slit on each side that is going towards the middle. Again, don’t cut all the way in; about 1/3 of the way should be good.
  4. These shorter slits are where you will fold the sides in toward the middle. Both flaps should overlap in the middle.
  5. The long slit that you cut first will be the propellers. Fold each one down in opposite directions.
  6. At the very bottom, fold a small section up and clip it with a paper clip.
  7. Try dropping your helicopter and see what happens! You might need to have an adult help you to drop it from somewhere high up, like standing on a chair or over a stair railing.

How does it work?

As your paper helicopter falls, air pushes up against the blades which slows down the fall. Because there are two or more blades going in different directions, they are both getting pushed by the air but in opposite directions. Those two opposing pushes cause the paper to spin.

More Fun

  • Which direction does your helicopter spin: clockwise or counter-clockwise? What happens if you change the way the flaps are bent?
  • Try changing your design by making longer or shorter blades or changing how the blades and flaps are bent. How does this affect the spin? What works best?
  • Many plants use this concept to spread their seeds. Have you ever seen seeds falling from a maple tree?
  • More about helicopters here:

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