I asked my friend Liss (who has multiple boys) for fun ideas I could do with my son and a group of his friends. She showed me a video with instructions on how to make mini parachutes and I was like, yes. Yes, yes, yes. The process is really very simple, but it does take a bit of time if you want to make a few of them. Each chute takes about 25 minutes to make.
Materials I used
- 2-3 Balloons
- Rice (or you can use play dough like this example here)
- Cheap thin plastic tablecloth (a couple of dollars from a discount store)
- Measuring tape
- Marking pen
- Clear sticky tape
- Fishing swivel (optional)
I based this project on two videos. One has instructions on how to make the parachute part, and the other explains how to attach it to a balloon ball. I’ve written out the instructions what my husband and I did, but the videos are really comprehensive so I’ve included links to them below too.
Make the Balloon Balls
You can do this with rice or play dough. For play dough instructions, click here.
- To easily fill a balloon with rice, place rice in an empty medicine bottle or even an empty soft drink bottle. I use about a 1/3 of a cup of rice.
- Blow up balloon to a small size, then twist the top (but do not tie off).
- Place the balloon opening over the bottle top, then it’s a simple matter of tipping the bottle upside-down, allowing the twist in the neck of the balloon to open, and the rice will fall from the container into the balloon.
- Release the hair, tie off the balloon, and it’s important then to stretch another balloon (or two) over the top so it’s strong and to prevent breakage.
That’s the balloon ball part done.
VIDEO: Check out the video on how to attached the balloon and parachute together, plus heaps of throwing tips here.
Make the Parachute
- Cut a cheap plastic tablecloth into a square with 61 centimetre (24 inches) sides.
- Fold the square in half, and then in half again (so you have a smaller square).
- You want to work on the corner of the square that has the opening (check the video what what I mean). Measure two x 13 centimetres (5 inches) lines out from the corner to make a square.
- Cut along the two lines and remove the excess material. When you open it out, it should look a little like an addition sign.
- Cut a piece of tape approximately 5cm (2 inches) long and bring two sides in together so the edges are parallel. Tape vertically 2.5 cm (1 inch) in from the edge, allowing the other 2.5cm to hang over so you can fold it over to stick to the other side. Repeat this process on all sides.
- You should have small openings in each side of the parachute.
- Cut two 76 centimetre (30 inch) pieces of string. Measure in 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) on each end and make a small dot with a marker.
- Use a piece of tape horizontally to stick the string to one corner of the parachute, lining up the dot with the edge. There will be a small piece of string at the top left over. Fold this back over the piece of tape you just lay down, and place another piece of tape over the top (this is to ensure the string doesn’t slip out). Take the end of the piece of string and repeat the process with the next corner along. Then do the same to the other side of the parachute with the other string.
- Pull the string out tight so it’s even and tie a knot, leaving a loop in the end. Repeat on the other side.
- Bring the loops together and clip on to the top (opening part) of the fishing swivel. This isn’t imperative but it helps ensure the strings don’t get tangled up.
- Cut a short piece of string (about 10 centimetres) and tie securely below the knot on the balloon and the other side to the hole in the swivel.
- The parachute is finished! To roll it up ready to fly, hold the top of the chute and use the other hand to squeeze the air out. Take the top of the chute and fold down to where the string part starts. Then roll the chute tightly down into a ball, finishing with wrapping the string around at the end so you’re left with the balloon and a rolled up chute. To throw, hold the ball and chute together in one hand and throw in the air from the ground or from a high place.
VIDEO: Instructions on how to make the parachute here.
We tried this both from a balcony and from the ground and they both work. The balcony throw was more impressive, but if you peg it up from the ground, it works too. See this video for tips on how to pack the chute tighter so you can throw it higher before the chute opens.
Below is a slow-mo look at how our chute opens and see the video further below for it in action. SO COOL! SO FUN! And cheap too. We are going to make more for the school holidays coming up and do it with the cousins.