The holidays offer a unique opportunity to provide your children with alternative experiences and education. If done properly it can even be fun for both you and the child. Often these experiences can be very inexpensive and done in your kitchen or living room with material you can find in your home. We had an earlier post on Origami Cranes that has been getting a bunch of attention lately so we thought ‘What is another activity that can be done by most children (and caregivers) over the age of 4?’. Origami is great because it promotes following instructions, dexterity, reflection, task completion and creative imagination. Plus, it is a great activity to do at the kitchen table with other individuals and it fosters ‘face-to-face’ conversation (something lacking in texting and Facebook).
So what other activity could lead to great benefits like those? Paper Airplanes of course! This activity has all the benefits of Origami PLUS it teaches science topics like engineering, aerodynamics, and if led properly you can promote the use of the scientific method. In addition, paper airplaning is more easily done with any type of paper, although toilet or nose tissue is not a good option.
There are many good books at BN.com and sites on the internet with instructions on making airplanes. Some of the better ones we use are:
• 10 Paper Airplanes – Great instructions for making 10 types of paper airplanes. Designs also include a ‘spinner’ and ‘ring’ design.
• Alex’s Paper Airplanes – A nice UK site that includes instructional videos you can use to duplicate the planes. With 25+ designs it is sure to keep your child’s interest. It includes a design for a paper rocket that teaches surface tension and designs for the ‘worst’ paper airplane. The videos are both informative and a bit entertaining.
• Ryan Farrington – Seven designs that are well tested and generally easy to complete.
Paper airplaning is great for both boys and girls and will provide hours of activity to your child. Some of the things you can do with the finished product are flight competitions for distance, time in air, speed and accuracy. Asking questions like ‘if you put a paper clip on the nose of the plane what will happen?’ or ‘what will happen if we make the wings smaller?’ can lead to some great hypothesis generation, discussion, testing and analysis. Judging the final design of the planes based upon things like fold neatness, creativity and originality is also a good activity. There are probably a hundred more questions and learning opportunities that making paper airplanes promotes but for now we think you have a good start. Happy Flying!