2 half-gallon plastic milk jugs, with caps
Ruler and pencil
2 wooden paint stirrers
Acrylic paint and brushes
2 wine bottle corks
2 1/2-inch nail
Hot glue gun
3 14-inch lengths of 3/8-inch dowel
4 plastic bubble wands
2-liter plastic soda bottle
6 thick rubber bands
2 1/2-gallon plastic water jug (or large pan)
Cut four 5-inch-square propeller blades from the corners of the milk jugs (figure A). In each, cut a series of four 1 1/4-inch-wide slits on one side, roughly an inch apart (figure B). In Step 5, you will weave the glued-together paint stirrers through these slits.
Glue the wooden paint stirrers together to form a plus sign (+). Drill a 1/8-inch hole through the center of the + (a parent’s job). Paint the stirrers (and while you’re at it, paint the three lengths of dowel). Let the paint dry.
Cut a cork in half and press the nail through the center of one half. Twist the nail until it turns easily. Glue the pierced cork to the stirrers, using the nail to line up the holes in each. (Remove the nail before the glue dries.)
Poke a hole through the center of a milk jug cap with the nail. From a scrap piece of milk jug plastic, cut two 1-inch-diameter circles to serve as washers. Make a hole in the center of each with a hole punch or a craft knife. Thread the following, in order, onto the nail: milk cap, washer, propeller unit, second washer (figure C). Insert nail into uncut cork. Widen any tight holes if the propeller doesn’t spin smoothly.
Slide the four plastic propeller blades onto the stirrers (figure B). Slide the bubble wands between the paint stirrers and plastic blades so the textured circles rise just above the blades.
Cut three pairs of X’s (a parent’s job) in the 2-liter bottle and insert dowels (figure D). The two front legs should form an upside-down V, while the back leg slopes away from the blades. Wrap rubber bands around the dowels on both sides of the bottle. Add pebbles for ballast. Insert cork with attached propeller.
For the basin, cut the water jug 2 1/2 inches up from the bottom (or use a large pan). Fill with bubble mix. Adjust the mill’s legs so the wands submerge as they spin.
For an economical bubble solution, mix together 6 cups water, 2 cups Joy or Dawn dishwashing liquid (these brands work best), and 1 cup corn syrup. Store in a covered container.