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Washington’s weathervane atop the Mansion was decorative and practical. Follow these step-by-step instructions to make your own weathervane.

Supplies Needed

Template (includes Bird, Olive Branch, 2 Arrow Pieces, and Compass)
1 paperclip
1 straw
2 beads
Decorating supplies- crayons, markers, colored pencils, stickers, etc.
Scissors Pin or Needle (to poke a small hole in the straw and in the compass)
Glue Stick
New (unsharpened) pencil

Download Template

Step 1: Color and Cut

Color and cut out the bird, olive branch, arrows, and compass from the template. 

Step 2: Glue the Olive Branch

Glue the olive branch to the beak of the bird.

Step 3: Bend Paperclip

With an adult’s help, bend the paperclip so it is straight and looks like a wire.

Step 4: Make the Arrow

Cut slits into the end of the straw and slide an arrow piece at each end.

Step 5: Insert the Paperclip onto the Eraser.

Insert the paperclip into the eraser of the pencil and slide one bead so that it is on top of the eraser.

Step 6: Insert The Paperclip into the Straw.

Make a small hole in the middle of the straw and insert the paperclip through the middle of the straw. Slide the bead down the wire so that it is on top of the straw.


Step 7: Tape Bird onto the Paperclip.

Tape cut-out bird onto the end of the paperclip.

Step 8: Add the Compass.

Make a hole on the compass template and slide it through pencil.

Step 9: Go Outside!

Take your weathervane outside. Find north with a compass and use your weathervane to determine which direction the wind is blowing.

When did George Washington get a weathervane?

During the summer of 1787, George Washington was attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, working alongside the other Founding Fathers to create a government for the new nation. While there, Washington commissioned Joseph Rakestraw to construct a weathervane, which was to be installed atop the cupola of the Mansion at Mount Vernon. Washington’s instructions for the weathervane’s design were clear. The weathervane would feature a bird holding an olive branch.

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