How to Make a Weathervane for Kids

By Fred Samsa
Weathervanes are traditional rooftop decorations.

Weathervanes are traditional decorative items for rooftops, often appearing in the shapes of arrows, roosters, cows or other animals. Although they were first intended for practical use—as an indication of wind direction—they are now considered a form of North American folk art. You can share this history with kids by helping them to complete their own weathervane project, using simple materials found around the house. With a little supervision, kids can make their own weathervane in an afternoon.

Prepare a stand for the weathervane by pre-drilling a small hole in a block of wood. The hole should be just large enough to accommodate the dowel.

Sketch ideas for a weathervane outline with paper and pencil with the kids. Discuss traditional shapes (barnyard animals and arrows), and brainstorm other shape ideas with the kids.

Select an outline shape and simplify it as much as possible for easy cutting. Sketch the simplified shape onto a piece of cardboard.

Cut out the cardboard shape with a pair of scissors. Corrugated cardboard can be difficult to cut, so young children will need assistance with this step.

Paint the cardboard shape with tempera or acrylic paints. Although traditional weathervanes are usually a rusty green, gray or brown, depending on the metal composition, this is a good step for children to exercise a little creative license.

Insert one end of the dowel into the center of the corrugated cardboard, between the two face sides of the cardboard. Repeatedly insert and remove the dowel until the cardboard shape spins freely around the dowel.

Apply wood glue to the free end of the dowel, and insert the dowel into the pre-drilled block of wood. Allow the stand to dry for 30 minutes.

Warning

Do not allow children to operate power tools. Supervise the use of scissors by small children.

About the Author

Fred Samsa has been writing articles related to the arts, entertainment and home improvement since 2003. His work has appeared in numerous museum publications, including program content for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he was awarded a Presidential Fellowship in 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in art from Temple University and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Brown University.