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How to Make a Windmill That Can Pick Up Pennies

Windmills are common in America's Midwest.
Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Windmills can be decorative as well as functional. Consider making a windmill that is able to pick up pennies as a craft or science project. Using a few simple tools and materials you have around the house, you can create this windmill that is functional.

Things You'll Need:

  • Wire Coat Hanger (The Type With A Cardboard Tube)
  • Penny
  • Paper Clip
  • Plastic Milk Or Orange Juice Bottle
  • Wire Cutter
  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  • Double-Faced Tape
  • String Or Twine
  • Craft Knife Or Razor Blade
  • Modeling Clay
  • Toy Spinner (Pinwheel)

Cut one side of a plastic half-gallon milk container. Remove the whole side and discard. The milk carton will be the basic structure for the windmill.

Remove the cardboard tube from a coat hanger (the type you get from a dry cleaner). Cut a slot at the middle section that will allow a piece of twine to go through.

Make two holes on either side of the milk container. Insert the tube. You should be able to see the tube clearly through the opening of the milk container.

Using a wire cutter and pliers, cut a piece of wire coat hanger that is a few inches longer than the width of the milk bottle. Make an “S” shape on the one end which will serve as a handle. Tie a piece of twine to the center of the wire and wrap the rest of the twine around the wire. Slip the wire through the tube. Pull the twine through the slot hole made in the tube (the twine should be hanging from the wire inside the tube in the interior of the milk bottle).

Tie a paperclip to the end of the twine and tape double-faced tape to the paperclip. The tape will be what attaches to the penny in order to lift it up.

On the other side of the wire (one side has the handle), take a lump of modeling clay and attach it to the wire.

Cut off the head of a spinner toy (also known as a pinwheel). Attach the spinner portion to the wire with the clay. Allow it to harden.

Take newly made windmill outside on a windy day. Stick a penny to the twine with the double-face tape that is attached to the paper clip. The pinwheel spinner will spin and, in turn, spin the wire. When the wire turns, the twine will roll up and will lift the penny. If there is not enough wind to lift the penny, use the “S”-shaped handle to turn the wire.


Weigh down the interior of the milk container with gravel to prevent it from tipping over.


  • The edges of the plastic container will be sharp when cut. Do not allow children to do this project unsupervised because using the craft knife or razor blade could be dangerous.
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