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Playing with parachutes

What you need

  • Materials that can be found around the house to make the parachute such as plastic bag/tissue/fabric
  • pieces/handkerchief
  • Disposable cups or a lightweight container/cup
  • String or yarn
  • Scissors


This is a fantastic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activity that will involve your child having to be creative, come up with new uses for items and have a lot of fun exploring the concept of gravity!

The experience

Create a parachute together! You could make the parachute big enough to fit a small toy figure.

You will need a disposable cup e.g. plastic or paper, or if you don’t have these to hand, what about hunting around the house for a lightweight, small container or cup?

The top of the parachute will ideally be made from an empty plastic carrier bag; a rubbish bag would also work well. You will need to cut the bag open and create holes in the bag to tie the string or yarn through. If you have child friendly scissors, encourage your child to do the making themself, and to think about how long they should make the string, etc. Encourage them to ensure their strings are all the same length so they don’t end up with a wonky parachute!

Alternatives to plastic bags would be to try other lightweight materials such as a piece of thin fabric, a handkerchief, or even a large tissue or piece of tissue paper. You could experiment with a range of different materials to make this an experience that will go on over a longer period of time. For best results your bag or other material will need to be a square shape.

The bag or alternative material needs to be strung to the cup – you could poke holes and tie the string in knots (your child will most likely need help for this), or you could use tape to attach strings to the cup. Then you can have fun dropping the parachute from a height and seeing how it floats to the bottom.

You could try dropping from the top of the stairs, a climbing frame, the sofa, or even from out of a window, with one member of the family releasing the parachute, whilst the others watch from the ground level. Experiment with different heights and compare how fast the parachute is, or which materials flew the best, if you make more than one parachute.