Introduction: Upcycle Used Paper Into a Papercraft Airplane Toy

About: I adore instructables and use it when I'm playing with ideas for my students (I'm a certified art teacher and the Art Director for a children's summer camp). I have found that it fuels my creative process as …

This instructable will give you the step by step to create your plane out of recycled paper using cheap and easy to use materials.  Your plane could be used to illustrate a variety of ideas in a classroom as well as make a cool fun toy to play with!

This is a easy and cheap creation to add to any classroom lesson.  Anyone younger than second grade will need more than one day of work, and pre-cut items might be helpful.  Anyone younger than 4th grade you may want to break the lesson up.  Do not fear, any K-12 grade level can be successful with this, you just might need to modify what steps they do.  Pre-cutting templates for instance might be helpful.  Working in small groups may be a good idea.  You name it modifications can be made and I'm more than happy to help you come up with those modification. :)

So let's get crackin' at making this fantastic upcycled paper airplane toy/model that can be used in a multitude of teaching lessons!

Please see my other paper craft instructables (All of which could be created using recycled paper) for other ideas as well:

Pirate Paper Craft (EASY)

Goldie Locks (Little Girl) Paper Craft (Easy)

The Muffin Man or Chef Paper Craft (EASY)

Swan Paper Craft

Lesson Ideas:



Learning about how planes work

The history or planes

Wright Brothers

Following basic directions

Following a pattern

Learning how to write expository text, narrative, instructional text

Art lesson for any season

Learning new key words (these can very from lesson to lesson)

Earth Day Lesson

Learning about recycling, reusing, reducing, and upcycling


I'd love to hear any ideas you might have for lessons!

Step 1: Materials Needed

Materials needed:

Old Paper (newspaper, damaged books, scrap paper, thin cardboard)
Glue (Elmers) (White glue is best but I did this with rubber cement)
Templates (these can be printed out on the back of already used paper)

Materials Recommended But Not needed:

Paper Clips
Permanent Marker (many colors or one)
White Paint
White Out
Tooth Pick
Exact Knife

Recycled Paper is not the only way this pirate could be made, some other thoughts on what you could create this guy out of are listed below:

Aluminum cans
Paper mache
You name it you could likely use it!

Step 2: Cut Out the Templates

Open up the PDF, print out and cut out all of your templates needed for your plane.

I had some old school templates left to me by a former school teacher long ago, I've modified them to make creating this paper craft easier.  This basic design can be used and changed to make other modifications. 

In another green idea, you can print off the PDF on paper you had planed on throwing out.

Step 3: Find Your Paper

I had some water damaged books in my room (left by another teacher) that were getting moldy, some had lost their jackets.  I hate throwing out books, even old books, so I thought a while and decided to use them in art projects.  The book I found had pictures of airplanes in it and it was about play, so I figured making a paper airplane toy out of it was fitting.

I started by using the nose cone pattern and cutting it out.  The large dashes are where the pattern should lay on a fold of the paper, so you have to identical pieces hooked together.

Step 4: Body of the Plane

Next we are going to work with the planes body.  Again, the large dashes are where the pattern should lay on the fold.  (interior dashes are guides for where to lay glue.

Step 5: Tail Pieces

Two patterns make up the tail of the plane, cut both pieces out of your paper.  The Plains fin needs slits cut into it so the tail flap can fit through it.

Step 6: Wings

Next cut our your wings, again lay it on the fold.

Step 7: Wing Slit

your wing is going to go through the body of the plane.  Fold the planes body and cut close to the top of the paper.  This will create a slit for your wings to go through.  Feed your wings through.  If you find you didn't cut a long enough slit simply make the cut longer.  Glue the wings in place.

Once you have your wings in place, roll the body of the plane and glue it in place.  Hold it together with a paper clip to help it dry as you move on.

Step 8: Tail End of the Body

The body of the plan has several triangular shapes come out the back.  You are going to glue these pieces together to make a cone shape for the back of the plain.  This will also be where you hook the tail pieces onto the plain.  Paper clip together to hold it why the glue dries.

Step 9: Nose Piece

Take your nose piece and glue it to the font of the plane.  There are small slits cut into the nose piece so it slides inside.  glue this in place.

Step 10: Bringing Up the Rear

The tail pieces should be glued together then attached to the back of the plane and glued in place.  Again, use a paper clip to help hold it in plance.

Step 11: Engines

Jumbo jets need power, take  size pieces of 2X2 paper and roll them into cylinders.  Paper clip them.  Once dry glue them onto the wings of the plane.  Three on each wing.  You can hold these with paper clips as well.  Once you have all your glue dry make sure you remove all your paper clips.

Step 12: Time to Play and Learn

I will admit this plane doesn't fly well, but it does fly.  It makes a great toy to have kids play with and pretend they are flying.  If you made this using a thing recycled piece of cardboard you could cut a hole at the top of the plane to hold action figures.  These could be used in a classroom as well to meet many state standards requirements.

Most of all you get a cool paper airplane toy made out of materials that would have been thrown away.

Please share with me any ideas you have or if you make the project!

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