Thursday, November 8, 2012

Making the Perfect (Simple) Paper Plane

When looking for something to do which requires little or no preparation, I often reach for a huge stack of paper that is always in the corner of the cupboard. Paper can be made to do lots of things and this day I thought I’d show B an amazing flying plane. Only the first one I made wasn’t amazing. This led me to find out how to make a really good plane from just one piece of paper. I found a lot more than I had bargained for.

The first plane I made for B was met with a blank face and “that wasn’t very good, Mama”. It was a bit of a let down as we’d had fun folding paper together. I hadn’t told him what we were making and I thought I might get at least an “oo” from the first flight., but no. The paper plane flew about 2 metres heading steadily down to the floor.

So I did a little research and found this wonderful site called with lots of different ways to make airplanes. There are many to choose from, some complicated and some simple, all with instructions in video form and step by step diagrams. They all fly a little differently. My favourite is the Rapier as it is quick and easy to make (and to remember).

Instructions (these are very basic and might only be understood if you know how to make a basic school child plane!):
1. Take a piece of paper and fold it lengthways down the middle. Open it.

Folded Piece of Paper

2. Fold the top edge over about one centimetre. Then fold it over again, and again and again, about 8 times.

Paper with One Fold at the Top

Paper with Top Fold Folded Over

3. Then take the top outside corner (with lots of folds) and fold it down to the middle. Do the same to the other side (like you do for a traditional basic plane)

Corners Folded Over

4. Then fold along the middle crease again.

Middle Crease Folded again

5. Lastly, fold the lower corners (now joined in the middle flat against each other) down to create the wings.

Wings Folded Down - The Finished Plane!

There is an instruction video for this plane if my instructions aren’t adequate, and diagrams when you scroll down. And through this link you will find more plane which will no doubt keep an older child happy for a long while.

If you have lots of time and patience, you might be interested in this complicated paper plane. I can’t vouch for its flying ability though, there are 35 steps and I didn't have time to finish it. I'll have to try again when my son is able to follow.

Testing different paper planes was a lot of fun and it gave us lots of opportunity to use words for describing the way they flew and how well they flew. We also:
  • Practiced folding - great for fine motor skills
  • Ran around and followed the planes - whole body co-ordination and dodging doorways and furniture!
  • Experimented with the concept of motion
  • Watched a simple plain piece of paper take on new dimensions and almost a personality as it zoomed through the air!

Do you have a favourite paper place design? Comment to tell me about it.

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