Make a Bullroarer

What You Need:

  • Yardstick
  • Utility scissors
  • Flat file
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Reddish brown paint
  • Yard of twine

What You Do:

  1. Before you start the project, bring your child to the library and help him find some books about Native American history. You can also find some great websites online if you search for information on bullroarers or Native Americans of the Southwest.
  2. Now you're ready to start your project. Have him use the utility scissors to cut through the yardstick at the 12" mark. Now he has a handle (the short piece) and a sounding stick (the long piece) for his aerophone (an instrument that causes sound by vibrating the air).
  3. Next, have him cut the corners off one end of the sounding stick and file off the sharp edges. Show him how to rest the file at an angle across the edge (perpendicular to the yardstick), then rub up and down, holding the file at a consistent angle. Don't forget to turn it over and file both sides!
  4. After they're filed down, smooth the edges with sandpaper.
  5. Now, drill one hole in the handle and one in the flat end of the sounding stick. If he's old enough, have your child use a manual craft drill, or drill yourself with a power drill.
  6. Native Americans rubbed damp, red clay into their bullroarers to color them, but paint will cover the printing better than clay. Paint both pieces and set them out to dry.
  7. When they're dry, the bullroarer is ready to assemble! Loop twine in half and thread it through the holes. Tie a square knot with the loose ends, and you're all done! 

Take the bullroarer outside, grip the handle firmly and twirl the sounding stick. When it's twirled, it should make a haunting, howling sound that's similar to the sound of a moaning or howling wolf.

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