Airplane crafts are an excellent activity for kids of all ages - not only will the kids be occupied for hours when they are making their airplanes, experimenting with different designs and materials - but they will also have hours of fun playing with them afterwards.
We have gathered together a list of the 19 best airplane designs, which are fun to make and even more fun to fly. A great STEM activity for your kids - whether you choose to make a simple paper airplane or a plane that has a aerodynamic propeller - children who engage with aircraft projects will learn the scientific principles that result in flight as well as improving their attention to detail and their fine motor skills.
With only a single sheet of paper and just a few folds, it is possible to make a quick and easy plane to play with. For younger kids, choose a simple airplane design - focusing on decorating the aircraft, colouring it in and adding drawings and different patterns. For older children, or those with a particular interest in flying and aircraft, there are plenty of more complicated designs to choose from.
The different designs have their own ways of flying - some are acrobatic, some spend a long time gliding and others cover long distances. The website, Fold n Fly, is an excellent resource for paper airplane ideas - with lots of different airplanes for kids to choose from. From easy airplane designs, like those that you used to make at school in just a few quick folds - to more complicated planes based on real life airplanes.
Easy airplane templates include:
Medium airplane crafts include:
- The UFO
Difficult airplane crafts include:
Airplanes based on birds include:
The website has rated each design from easy to hard, and each airplane craft project comes complete with fully illustrated instructions to follow, as well as a video tutorial to watch, so that kids have fun whilst making their airplanes - focusing on the craft rather than feeling confused.
Transform a Paper Airplane into a Flying Dragon
Using the free printable template from Create in the Chaos, your kids can make airplane crafts that look like amazing flying dragons. Decorate and colour in the template, and then follow the simple instructions on the website - or watch the YouTube video - to assemble your dragon, and fly! Craft this creature using only a paper clip, scissors and glue - as well as printing out the brilliant template.
Simple Straw Gliders
Airplane crafts for kids sometimes require lots of adult supervision, knowledge and patience - so if you are looking for quick, easy and cheap airplane ideas, then these drinking straw gliders are the best. These airplanes are made from a single drinking straw, with one large card circle taped at the top of the straw, and a smaller card circle taped at the bottom. Your kids will be amazed that this simple 'plane' actually flies - and it is a great way to get kids interested in the science of flying.
The Zappy Zoomer
After experimenting with the simple straw glider, why not try making 'Zappy Zoomers' next? Once assembled, these airplanes fly high and they travel long distances, so they are fun for the kids to play with. Like the gliders, these zoomers are made from simple materials like drinking straws, card and tape - just follow the instructions on Babble Dabble Do to make this slightly more complicated design, and note what the differences are between the glider and the zoomer.
Make A Toilet Roll Airplane
Great for younger children, this airplane uses the inner tube of a toilet roll - along with ice lolly sticks and some other simple craft materials, such as pipe cleaners and paint - to make a fun, colourful airplane toy. Come up with your own craft ideas for decorating the airplane, and use whatever materials you have in the house to personalise the design. For detailed instructions, follow the quick video tutorial by Sunshine Whispers, and have fun assembling, decorating and playing with this airplane.
Clothes Peg Planes
Airplane projects can be made out of lots of different household objects - including clothes pegs, wine corks and ice lolly sticks. The Incredibusy website has a great tutorial for making airplane crafts for kids, explaining how to make wheels from a wine cork and a cocktail stick, and how to turn a wooden clothes peg into the body of an airplane. Kids will have fun using their problem solving skills to find different materials to use, as well as finding different ways to combine them to make airplanes that do - or don't - fly.
How To Make A Fully-Functioning Propeller Plane
Airplane crafts for kids are a great way to teach some basic concepts in engineering and physics - and this simple propeller airplane shows how easy it is to make an airplane that can take off from the ground, flying at around 15 feet before landing upright - rather than crashing into the ground, nose first.
Follow the detailed instructions by LanceMakes on Instructables - and share his teaching tips with your kids as a way of improving their understanding of flight and airplanes. Be aware that this design does require a propeller - but other than that, only simple materials like straws, rubber bands, cardboard, tape, ice lolly sticks and a paper clip are needed to make this airplane design.
Airplane Assembly Kit
Bang Good has a great airplane kit which can be easily assembled by kids, and can be purchased and shipped for less than £5. The airplane is powered by rubber bands, and the kit includes all of the materials that your child will need, meaning that the airplane can be quickly assembled and played with. The kit includes a propeller mechanism, as well as some other craft materials - and so, kids who are particularly interested in paper airplanes and airplane crafts can change and alter the basic design - using the propeller to experiment with other airplane ideas.
Make It Educational
Making paper planes can be educational as well as fun - so here are some tips on how to make paper planes part of a science and engineering project...
1. Once you have built your paper plane, guess how much weight it can hold. All you need to complete this project is paper, sticky tape and lots of coins. Use the tape to attach the coins to the airplane, as well as using tape to mark a target on the floor. To really measure if the airplane 'takes off', set up the challenge in a doorway, and use string to set a minimum height that the plane must fly above. For further details on this STEM activity, follow the instructions on the Kids Activities Blog.
2. Why not experiment to see how size affects the airplane? Make miniature versions and see how far the tiny airplane can fly, and then use a big sheet of poster board and tape to make a jumbo paper airplane. Watch to see how the size changes how the airplane flies.
3. It can help kids to understand what they are doing if they have an example in front of them. If you have extra materials, it can be a good idea to make - or partially make - an example airplane before your child starts their project as this will help them to visualise what they are working on, making it easier to finish airplane crafts without getting bored or frustrated.
4. There are four key concepts in aviation - lift, thrust, stability and weight - and building any paper airplane or airplane craft will teach one, several or all of them. Look to find ways of explaining these concepts whilst your child is making and flying their plane - or set a research project for your child to complete to have them teach you why their airplane flies (or does not fly...)
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
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Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
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