Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Chinese Toy: Make Your Own Bamboo Dragonfly

The bamboo dragonfly, also known as a bamboo-copter, is a traditional Chinese toy, invented sometime between 500-400 BC. 

Bamboo Dragonfly
Photo Source: Invent China
This simple toy was the inspiration behind the invention of the helicopter. Sir George Cayley, considered the "Father of aeronautics" replicated this toy in the late 18th century and, through research, began understanding the principles behind propellers. 

This is a simple toy to make and play with. I would not recommend it for toddlers or particularly young kids - the skewer is sharp, and it occasionally spins towards your face (we haven't exactly figured out why it does that :)

  • printable template
  • cereal box cardboard
  • bamboo skewer
  • scissors
  • exacto knife
  • decorative paper or paint to decorate
1. Trace the template onto your cardboard and cut out. Make a hole in the center for your skewer.

2. Decorate your propeller. Elle used decorative paper on both sides. She used a glue stick to apply glue to the cardboard propeller piece, and placed it on the paper. Once dry, she cut around the shape. Then did the other side. You could also paint the propeller and really personalize it. 

3. Attach the bamboo skewer into the center hole of the propeller piece. Put beads of glue on both sides - the top and underside of the propeller - where the skewer meets the paper. Let dry completely, ideally overnight.

Once it's dry, take it out for a spin. 

How do you spin the dragon fly?

Hold the bottom of the skewer in the palm on one hand, holding it with the finger tips of your other hand.

Using your fingertips, roll the skewer off the tip of your other hand.

This may take you a few tries to get the hang of it. And yup, it may swing up into your face a couple of times as well.

We started off by just making one for Elle (Pea thought she was much too old for this) - but then all found ourselves wanting a turn with it. Including Pea. We'll have to make more because Elle is getting tired of sharing it!

You can find more cultural and historical activities at the following linkups:

You can find more creative and kid friendly activities at the following linkups:

Highhill Homeschool
For the Kids Fridays at SunScholars.com


  1. Wow, this is great. I am adding this to our bucket list of activities for China!

  2. Oh, I can't wait to make one. Thank you so much.

    1. You're very welcome :) Would love to hear about how it works out for you.

  3. I am TOTALLY doing this with my sons. I just know they'll love it. Thank you for sharing the amazing tutorial and linking up to the After School Linky Party; I'm featuring it tomorrow. Stop by to check it out and keep sharing your amazing ideas!

    1. Thanks! Wold love to hear about how it turns out :)
      And thanks for hosting the after school linky party!

  4. What a great craft, but will have to wait until my sons are a bit older ;) And so interesting to know the history and its connection to the helicopter. Thanks for sharing at the Creative Kids Culture Hop!

  5. Brilliant toy for my afterschool club - we just put tape tightly top and bottom and worked like a dream. Give yourself plenty of room as it flies wonderfully. Thank you for this idea and the template.

    1. Thanks Rona - glad your club had fun with it!


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