If your kids love STEM activities and engineering activities for kids, they will love this clothespin airplane building challenge. What kind of airplane can you make?
For this engineering activity, I challenged my kids to see what sort of airplane they could create using clothespins and popsicle sticks.
I really couldn’t believe how well the airplanes turned out!
If you want to make your own wooden airplanes, you can’t go wrong with these materials!
How to Make a Plane Out of Popsicle Sticks
This activity is simple, but there is so much to learn! We did this engineering challenge as part of a STEM unit around the Wright Brothers, the math and science of flight, and the history of aviation.
Supplies for the Clothespin Airplane Craft
- Wooden clothespins
- Popsicle sticks (we used jumbo size)
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Acrylic paint
- Flight: The Complete History (for reference)
- Pony beads
How to Make Airplanes out of Wooden Clothespins
First, we discussed airplanes and the history of flight before beginning our clothespin airplane challenge. We learned how older planes flew and how planes fly today.
Monkey decided she wanted to make a modern plane and we made the WWI plane together.
The challenge was to build a realistic airplane using clothespins and popsicle sticks. Additionally, Monkey wanted her airplane to be able to fly.
Airplane Science for Kids
For inspiration, we read the airplane page of How Things Work, and we also looked at pictures of old WWI planes and the original Wright Flyer.
The Sopwith Triplane was the inspiration for our joint design. Here is a bit more about the science behind why airplanes can fly.
First, we assembled our supplies. We ended up cutting our popsicle sticks with scissors. That worked well to create the angles we needed. We only used wood from the popsicle sticks and clothespins.
Use our designs as inspiration for your own clothespin airplane creations.
How to Make Modern Clothespin Airplanes
- 2 popsicle sticks
- 1 clothespin (spring removed)
We assembled our planes with hot glue. When the glue dried, we painted our planes with acrylic paints.
Monkey wanted her plane to look fast, so she chose red and yellow.
How to Make a Wooden Airplane: Sopwith Triplane
- 5 popsicle sticks
- 1 clothespin
- 5 pony beads
We decided to go with the precise colors of the Sopwith Triplane to stick with tradition.
How to Fly a Clothespin Airplane
After the planes dried, we launched them into the air like you would a paper airplane.
Put something soft under the landing area to prevent a fatal crash for your plane that you won’t be able to recover from!
As expected, Monkey’s plane flew much better than the historical design.
Her plane actually flew quite well for how heavy it was. The pointed nose and the wide wingspan kept it aloft longer than I thought it would.
The other plane, I guess, would need a motor to keep it in the air.
More Engineering Activities for Kids
Egg Crate Airplane Engineering Project
How to Design a Paper Airplane Engineering Challenge
The Ultimate Egg Drop Engineering Project