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How to Build a Toy Parachute and Explore the Laws of Physics

One of the things I really enjoyed when I was a little was building parachutes. When we were in Las Vegas visiting my mom, I thought it would be a fun project to do with the kids. My mom got us a thin plastic garbage bag. It was square, so we cut it in half to get two toy parachute sails.

Make a toy parachute with your kids! Easy tutorial in this post.

As Emma is demonstrating below (in a rather elaborate pose), we tied thread to each of the four corners of the sail.

How to make a toy parachute with your kids. Toy parachute tutorial.

We were in need of a payload. At first we tried a few paperclips, but they weren’t heavy enough. The kids thought a toy parachute would be fun! We decided to use a little doll that I made with my grandmother when I was four years old. I have a crafty grandmother, and I enjoyed quilting, sewing, and crocheting with her when I was little. My mom still has many of my little projects saved in her closet. Anyway, my doll enjoyed a very graceful ride down from the second story, as you can see below. In hindsight, it would have been cooler if we made him a little parachute pack with straps instead of safety-pinning the thread to his head.

Explore the laws of physics with this simple toy parachute.

Emma enjoyed catching the parachute as it floated down.

Toy parachutes are easy and fun to make! Learn how in this post.


When we do this activity again, we’ll try timing how long it takes the parachute to float down. We can try different payloads and try to guess the effect on the float time. When the kids get a little older, we’ll try building some model rockets with a parachute embedded.

Have you ever built a toy parachute with your kids?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

20 thoughts on “How to Build a Toy Parachute and Explore the Laws of Physics”

  1. I did this with my 3rd graders as a science project and we discussed air resistance and terminal velocity. They loved it!!

  2. I love this post. The parachute brought to my mind memories of shooting fireworks with my dad when I was a child. Do you remember those fireworks that let out the parachutes? They looked just like Emma’s!

  3. too fun! Love the simplicity of making a parachute and the big (fun!) learning payoff!

  4. This brings back memories. I used to make parachutes with my brothers when I was a kid, and we would fly them off the veranda at home.

  5. It’s neat that you also had a good launching pad for your parachute :) You could also try to experiment with different materials in the future. I am not surprised that craftiness and creativity of your children comes from both sides of the family :)

  6. Elisa | blissfulE

    I would never have thought of this. What a great idea.

    Gorgeous photos of Emma, too!

    1. I was amazed at how well it worked! Mike took the photos, as well as writing the post. He’s a great photographer, and his mom’s house has an entire wall of windows that provide gorgeous lighting for indoor photos!

  7. My kids have been “politely requesting” that for a long time….. I need to do it soon.

    And the little doll, adorable.

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