Paper Airplane Inquiry


Inquiry unit on airplanes that integrates different subject areas such as math, language, science and art.

Activity Description:

The unit can be initiated through students’ shown interests in planes (observed during play). The topic may also be introduced by the teacher through read-alouds that are plane related or including plane-related materials for children to play with to initiate discussion with the students.


Implementation (Lesson/Activity ideas for the unit):

  • Free exploration of paper planes: The teacher provides students with materials to construct paper planes and facilitate students in the creation of a runway to test the paper planes.


  • Knowledge building circle: Class discussion on student questions and ideas related to paper planes.  Resources on airplanes (some that contain instructions for building more complicated paper aircrafts) should be available in the classroom for student and teacher reference

  • Scientific methods: The teacher may introduce the scientific method and suggest to students that they test out different adherents to determine which will facilitate furthest flight.

  • Standard and Non-Standard measurements: As part of the scientific experiment with the planes, the teacher may introduce the concept of standard and non-standard measurements to determine the flight distance of each airplane.


Suggested resources: 

Books about airplanes, various types and sizes of paper, standard and non-standard measurement tools, various adherents

We are the Play Learning Lab, run by Dr. Angela Pyle at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto.



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