An overhead shot of three paper and thread racers: a squid, a pizza rocket and a flying squirrel


How to Make Racers Using Paper, Glue and Thread

Oct 8, 2021

It's no startling revelation that many kids love all things that go zoom. 

Cars, trucks, rocket ships — if it goes fast, there's a good chance a kid is going to be into it. 

Putting this to the test, I decided to make a project that is one part craft, one part game and activity. I call them thread racers, and they are a heck of a lot of fun.

What You'll Need

  • thread (any thread you have on hand will do)
  • paper straws
  • construction paper (have your kids choose their favourite colours, or use what's on hand)
  • scissors
  • glue (I used white craft glue)

How It's Made

To begin, talk to your little ones about characters they would like to see face off in a thread race. It could be a pizza rocket, a snorkel squid or a super-fast sugar glider.

When you've settled on your design choices, fold a scrap piece of paper in half. Then draw half of your design against the edge of the fold.

This next step is important! 

Cut out your design to create a symmetrical template. TIP: Your design can be as wild and creative as you like, but symmetry keeps your racer upright and on track! So you can simplify the design (different coloured squares would be great). 

Next, fold a piece of construction paper in half. Then cut around your template to create two identical copies. 

Now you're going to take one of your cut-outs, and fold it in half. Leave the other intact. 

The bent shape becomes the top of your thread racer. Now you're going to cut a length of paper straw and glue it in the fold you created. It should look something like this: 

Take the other cut-out and glue it to the top. 

Your racer should look something like this — a top and bottom, with a straw sandwiched in between. (Suggestion: Use markers, cut paper and glue to decorate your racer. Be as bold as you like!) 

Next, create a handle to launch your racer. To do so, you will need to cut a rectangle from your construction paper along the fold.

Fold the rectangle in half (if you didn't cut it out along the fold), then fold two tabs backward. A backward fold will look like this:

Once you've folded both sides, the result will look something like this: 

Glue your tabs to the bottom of your racer, and let the glue fully dry. It's really starting to come together now!


Now you're goign to cut a length of thread and feed it through the straw. Once you've done that, tie off each end of your thread to create your racetrack. Try tying the thread to things like doorknobs, drawer handles or chair legs.

TIP: Adjust your thread to make sure the race track is really taught, without any slack. The tighter the thread, the faster the track.

Once your track is as taught as you want it, have your kids use the handle to launch their thread racers.

Have fun creating different characters! Try making tracks at different heights and angles! Create a start and finish line! It's a great idea for holiday gatherings and birthdays with friends and family. Happy racing!

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Article Author Mara Shaughnessy
Mara Shaughnessy

Mara is a children’s book author and illustrator who’s big into scissors and glue, making cake from the box, wrestling with her dogs and doodling with felt tip pens. You can check out her latest work at The Little Monster or craft along with her at Craft University.

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