Paper airplane
 While making the classical paper airplane, students follow folding instructions and talk about flying.

You will need:

  • For each student, a rectangular piece of paper; a variety of colors/sizes will make the activity more interesting.
  • Crayons or colored pencils for decorating.
  • Students should work on a flat surface (desk, binder, etc.) and fold with precision. Uneven folding will result in a lopsided plane.
Suggested vocabulary:

paper  airplane  fold  unfold  middle  point  together  triangle  flap  turn over  corner  center  body  nose  wing  tail  inside  trip  fly


Click on the thumbnail image if you want to see a larger picture. Teachers who use a screen reader
should ignore the links to the larger images, as the screen reader will read the instructions in order.

1. Fold the paper lengthwise.

2. Crease the folded end.

3. Unfold the paper and lay it on a flat surface.

4. Fold the right top corner to the center line.

5. Crease the diagonal fold.

6. Fold the left top corner to the center line.

7. Crease the diagonal fold.

8. Fold the new right top corner to the center line.

9. Crease the folded end.

10. Repeat steps 8 and 9, this time with the new left top corner.

11. Fold the sheet lengthwise, inward, along the center line.

12. Crease the folded end.

13. Fold the top flap down, so that its front touches the bottom of the "plane."

14. Crease the folded end.

15. Turn the paper over, and fold and crease the other flap as you did in steps 13 and 14.

16. Lift the flaps to create the wings.

17. Decorate your plane. Is it a civilian plane? A military plane? Where is it going? What can you say about the structure? Who is sitting inside?

  Suggested links for additional ideas:
  • Alex's Paper Airplanes
    Learn to make paper airplanes, helicopters, and gliders. Alex Schultz provides excellent instructions and step-by-step drawings. There is also a page of Alex's favorite links, which he has reviewed. Students interested in building a paper airplane for a science fair entry will find advice and ideas on this site. Learn which paper airplanes to use, which tests to run on these paper airplanes, and how to make them. This is an award-winning site that is full of useful information.

  • Jline Paper Airplanes
    Judson Lee will help you build a number of different airplanes of varying difficulty with his helpful hints and step-by-step instructions and illustrated diagrams in color. Be sure to look at "Smoothing out the lines!" on his new "Tips and Tricks" page.

  • Making Paper Airplanes
    This is a site in WannaLearn's Just for Fun Series that contains 12+ excellent links that will help young and old build paper airplanes.

  • Society of Women Engineers - Wichita Area
    Seven links to paper airplane sites designed to teach the principles of drag and lift.

  • Fly'n Things -- Amazing Paper Airplanes by Phil Koopman, Sr.
    A brief history of paper models, general instructions & building tips, and paper/card modeling FAQ (off-site link).

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