Do your kids enjoy making things out of paper? If they do, spring is the perfect time of year to have a paper airplane day in your homeschool. It’s a great way to practice STEM skills in a fun, low-key way.
We recently enjoyed one of these fun learning days. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at what we did.
Get a Paper Airplane Book
Kids need to learn to read procedural text. This type of document shows them how to do something, in a step-by-step manner.
We have this Klutz book on paper airplanes. It was the backbone for our recent paper airplane day.
The kids spent the morning trying out the designs in the book. They often crowded around it, trying to see what was the next step.
Next time around, I will pick up a couple of different books. That way more of the kids can have their own book to flip through. But, they were troopers and got to practice cooperation and taking turns, which are both important skills.
Making the Airplanes
I asked the kids to each make several airplanes that were different. After each, they gave them a test flight to learn more.
This helped them to see how they flew, and get a sense of what improvements they could make. Testing and making changes is an important process, so let your kids do this several times.
They learned which paper airplane designs flew the furthest. And which type of folding lead to amazing tricks. Some airplanes flopped. And they learned from that too.
Don’t be afraid to let your kids fail in the airplane folding business. They may not make creases firm enough the first time. And they might miss important steps.
That’s okay. When they ask for help, help them troubleshoot. Go back over the directions. Try to find out where the problem happened.
This is an essential skill in the STEM world, so practice away.
Decide on the Contests
Once your kids have some airplanes made, decide what sorts of competitions to have. Then, give them more time to make additional planes (or modifications) if necessary.
We had the following contests:
- Longest Flight
- Most Loops
- Best Trick
- Coolest Looking Design
- Prettiest Plane
What you judge the planes on is up to you. Let the kids get involved and have a say. My five-year-old wanted to color her planes, which is how we ended up with the Prettiest Plane category. Once we announced this one, the other kids went back and colored some of theirs as well.
Set the Time
Once the contests are decided on, announce the time for the competition to begin. That way everyone knows how much time they have to continue making changes.
Then, one at a time, announce the name of the competition. We did all of our flying for this outside, so we could throw them further.
The Flying Competitions
Once game time arrived, the kids were so excited. They were ready to see how their planes would do.
I had all the kids participate in each contest. They could use any plane they had created for any of the events.
After each contest, I announced the winner. It wasn’t overly competitive, but it kept the kids interested.
Afterwards, everyone who participated got a piece of candy.
Wrapping Up the Learning
There are several extension activities you can do to wrap up this fun day. You could watch some YouTube videos on paper airplanes. We did that, and ended up stopping to make paper helicopters too:
I also asked the kids to select their favorite plane overall. Then they had to explain why.
We discussed the features on the various designs and talked about what each of those helped the plane do. We talked about fins and wing shape. Depending on the age of your kids, this could easily lead to discussions on aerodynamics and other aviation terms.
Paper Airplane Day Success
It was so much fun to have a paper airplane day in our homeschool. It was a refreshing break from our typical routine, and I know the kids really enjoyed it. They also learned a lot, and got to practice some important STEM skills.
Have you ever had a paper airplane day in your homeschool? I’d love to hear about it.