How to make an airplane in 7 steps 

A cardboard airplane made out of a paper tube, cardboard, straws, and other recycled materials.

If you already have the classic paper plane model down, why not kick your craft skills up a notch by learning how to make an airplane. This may sound challenging, but don’t worry! Cardboard planes are actually super easy to make. Crafting this homemade toy is also an opportunity to recycle your Plenty kitchen towel rolls! 

Whether it’s during the holidays, on a rainy day, or just to pass the time, making a homemade toy in the shape of a cardboard aeroplane is a sure way to keep kids occupied and having fun. From what you’ll need to how to make your cardboard plane and then decorate it, we’ll show just how easy it is to make a cardboard plane. 

How to make a cardboard plane:  

First thing’s first: what materials do you need to get your DIY plane project off the ground? We’ve got you covered. Get ready for take-off! Because we’re going to show you just how easy and entertaining it is to make your own eco-friendly cardboard airplane. Take a look! 

The good news is that you really don’t need much for this airplane craft. Cardboard tubes, a cereal box, and a pair of scissors will get your plane flying in no time. And better yet, these are all things that you probably have lying around the house already. 

Have a root through your recycling and see what you can find to make your DIY plane. Here are some things you’ll need to keep in mind when looking for your airworthy materials:  

  • Cardboard tube from Plenty kitchen towel
  • 2 paper straws
  • Paint and brushes
  • Scissors
  • Thin cardboard (e.g. a cereal box)
  • Glue gun
  • Small yoghurt pot
  • Foam sheet
  • Pattern to print
Printable templates for the cardboard plane’s propeller, tail, and wings. Paper tube, straws, paint and brushes, scissors, cardboard, glue gun, yoghurt pot, foam sheet, and a printable pattern.


Try using a cardboard tube from a recycled roll of Plenty The Extra Big One to make your cardboard airplane.

How to make an airplane: step-by-step 

Now that you have your materials at the ready, it’s time to put things into motion and begin making your homemade toy! Gather around the table and follow these simple steps to build your airplane craft: 

  1. The printed template on a blue surface with a blue pair of child-friendly scissors. First thing’s first: Make sure you’ve gathered all the materials listed above to make your cardboard airplaneand don’t forget to print the template that you’ll use to trace and cut out your plane’s different parts! Using the template will make it much easier to cut out the correct shapes when the time comes. 
  2. A clean yoghurt pot is glued to the end of a kitchen towel tube, as if it’s wearing a hat. Next, remove the rim of the yoghurt pot by cutting off the edges. Put some glue on the end of the paper towel tube and push the tube into the yoghurt pot. This is now the nose of your plane. Remember, glue guns get very hot, so it’s best to leave the hot glue gun work to the adults for this craft. 
  3. A red foam sheet is wrapped around the kitchen towel tube, leaving the yoghurt pot visible, and secured with the hot glue gun. Once you have glued the paper towel tube to the yoghurt pot, it’s time to wrap the foam sheet (or coloured paper) around it. Before you do, you can decorate the sheet however you like – perhaps with windows and smiling faces, like a real airplane? Use the hot glue gun again to secure the sheet around the tube. 
  4. Cardboard cut-outs of the plane’s wings and parts, painted blue by the small paintbrush to the side. Next, it’s time to bring in the parts of your plane! Cut out the shapes from the template and place them on your thin cardboard cereal box or other thin sheet of cardboard. Then, draw around the shapes onto the cardboard, and cut out the two wings, the propeller and the tail. Make two of each piece to stick together back-to-back, to strengthen them. You can paint the wings the same colour as the plane’s body, or a contrasting colour – or paint them all different colours for a multicoloured masterpiece! 
  5. The paper towel tube with two notches cut at the back and the rear wing and tail of the plane, fitted together in an ‘X’ shape. After you cut out and paint the parts of your cardboard plane, cut a notch on the rear wing and in the tail so you can fit them together. Then, cut two notches 1cm long at the back of the paper towel tube to insert the rear wing. 
  6. The lower and upper wing of the plane glued together in parallel by two straws, cut down to the desired height. Next, take your two straws and cut them down to your preferred height. We recommend a couple of inches. Stick them onto the lower wing using the glue gun (ask an adult to help you) and stick the cardboard tube plane body to the lower wing. Apply glue to the top of the straws and then stick on the upper wing. Hold in place until the glue dries. 
  7. The cardboard plane’s blue-painted propeller glued to the front of the yoghurt pot. And finally, paste the propeller onto the yoghurt pot. Your cardboard plane is now officially ready for take-off! Buckle in! 

How to choose the colours of your cardboard plane 

Now that you know how to make a plane, you can get even more creative with your designs. For example, if you want to give your plane a more classic look, try using only two colours. You can take inspiration from the complementary colours of red and green, blue and orange, or yellow and purple to create nice visual harmony. To personalise the plane even more, your aspiring pilot can draw their own designs on the wings and body of the plane before assembling the pieces. The creative possibilities really are endless! 

How to make a cardboard airplane a fun party activity 

Do you have an airplane lover in your life that would simply adore an airplane themed birthday party? Then what better activity to include than making a DIY plane! Invite your flight-fanatic guests to take part in this fun craft activity for an exciting homemade toy that they can take home later. You can even make it an environmentally friendly party by asking the kids to bring their own recycled materials for the festivities!  

Just remember to keep an adult present and on hot-glue-gun duty and you’ll be good to go. And if you’re feeling really crafty, you could even make little animal friends out of cardboard tubes too! 

Did you find this article helpful?Thanks for your feedback!