A paper rocket is a more active toy than a tangram or a thaumatrope, particularly if you have a cat in the house to chase the paper rocket after it is launched. Shown below is the last remaining rocket from a batch I made several years ago. It lives in one of Lovely Assistant Kemuri’s sitting-in boxes, and even thought it is now completely flat and does not get launched anymore, she still plays with it from time to time.
You will need a bendable drinking straw, some copier paper, and dowel or a knitting needle with a diameter slightly larger than the straw. I used a plastic knitting needle size 2 UK/Canadian or 7 mm. (Note: my package of plastic, bendable drinking straws was purchased in 1983 when we were caring for an invalid. I occasional use them in the summer for iced coffee, and wash them afterwards. More than half the package is left.)
If you want to have patterned paper for your rockets, you can download and print stripes
Leftover paper can be saved and used for wrapping small gifts or making future paper projects.
For a huge range of free printable patterns, see Mel McCarthy’s Flickr account.
To make a rocket, cut your sheet in half horizontally, then cut a strip about 4 cm/1.5 inch wide. For sealing one end of the rocket you will also need a smaller piece like the two solid-coloured strips below. Cut a strip 1.25 x 4 cm/0.5 x 1.5 in.
The rocket is made by rolling the larger strip of paper around the dowel or knitting needle. Lay your paper with the long edge horizontally, place the dowel or knitting needle over the edge closest to you, and begin rolling. The outside edges of the printed page have no pattern, so if you are rolling a strip cut from an edge, roll with the blank edge first.
When there is only a narrow edge left exposed, apply glue or paste, then complete rolling. Hold the edge closed for a few seconds until the glue/paste has set enough to hold.
One end of the tube you made needs to be sealed for the rocket to work. Fold over the unprinted end about 1.25 cm/0.5 in.
Apply glue to the smaller strip of paper and wrap it around the folded end to hold it shut.
To launch your rocket, drop it loosely onto the long end of your bendy straw, then blow into the short end. If you have a problem with your rocket getting stuck on the straw, try trimming the long end of the straw to about two-thirds the length of your rocket.
Lovely Assistant Kemuri hopes your kitty and you have a good time.