Making and flying a paper aeroplane is one of those fundamental childhood activities. It’s simple, it’s cheap, it’s a lot of fun, and in the process of doing it, your child can practice a number of important core life skills. This is an experiment which you can do almost anywhere, and it’s just as easy to do it in the park after school as it is to do at home when you are stuck inside on a rainy day.
If you want to give this a go, then the video below shows you how to make a basic paper aeroplane using our own How To Raise A Happy Genius paper aeroplane template (which can be downloaded for free from here). We created this template to make it as easy as possible for kids to make their own paper aeroplanes, although younger ones will still need your help, and it’s a great design to start with. However, if you want to try some more advanced designs, you’ll find information about how to make a variety of different paper aeroplanes in the Variations section at the end of this post.
What Will You Need? All you need to do this experiment is a piece of reasonably thick and robust A4 or letter-sized paper (depending on what part of the world you are in). The kind of paper that you use in your home printer is perfect for this. If you are letting your child make the aeroplane themselves (and you should do this as soon as they’re old enough to do so), you may need several sheets, just in case something goes wrong. In addition, while you can start with a blank piece of paper, you may find it useful to print out a template which shows you, and your child, exactly how to fold it to create a paper aeroplane. You can download our free template for making a basic paper aeroplane by clicking here, and you can find additional templates for a variety of different designs at FunPaperAirplanes.com.
How Long Will It Take? It will only take a couple of minutes to make your first paper aeroplane, but flying it can take as long as you want, or as your child remains interested.
What Age Of Child Can Do This Experiment? While children younger than about five may struggle with the actual making of the aeroplane, children of all ages will enjoy flying them, or watching you fly them.
What Core Life Skills Will It Help Develop? There are a number of key areas which are covered by this experiment. The first is hand-eye coordination, as this is needed to both make the aeroplane in the first place, and to fly it. The second is following instructions. In order to be able to make the aeroplane, your child will have to learn to follow a set of instructions from start to finish in a specific order. This is a really important skill for children to learn, and the earlier they learn it the better. Finally, this experiment is a great introduction to the subject of aerodynamics, as well as helping children to understand things like how aeroplanes fly and how the wind affects the world around them.
Variations: The paper aeroplane shown above is only one of many possible designs, and there are plenty of resources available online to show you how to make a wide variety of different designs, but our favourite one is FunPaperAirplanes.com, which can be found here. If your child enjoys making paper aeroplanes, encourage them to experiment with different designs to see what impact this has on things like how far they fly, how long they stay airborne, how fast they have to be thrown to take off and so on. This will encourage your child to explore and test how different designs impact how well objects fulfil their intended function, which is a good lesson for children to learn. You can also encourage your child to try to come up with their own designs and test them against other designs they have tried. Similarly, your child can investigate what happens if they throw their aeroplane into the wind or with the wind, and off objects of different heights above the ground (NOTE: this experiment must always be closely supervised, and you should always ensure it is safe to do so before allowing your child to launch an aeroplane off any object), FInally, if you have a number of children, you can instigate paper aeroplane competitions to see who can fly theirs the furthest, who can fly it most accurately by trying to hit a specified target, how can make an aeroplane the fastest, or you can even play aeroplane tag, where kids can try to score points by hitting each others bodies with aeroplanes while they try to avoid being hit themselves (NOTE: Again, this is an activity that must always be supervised and the children playing it must always ensure that they never throw their aeroplane at anyone’s face).
About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.
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