Make Cardboard Planes with Slot Construction

This project was inspired by The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee, written by Julie Leung @jleungbooks  and illustrated by Julie Kwon @kwon__julie. This book tells the story of an Asian American pilot named Hazel Ying Lee who overcame racial prejudice and gender discrimination to do what she loved most: to fly. Hazel Ying Lee is an American hero in World War II. Read more about her life in this book, which we've added to the Chill Zone at reDiscover Center! Find this book during your next visit to learn more about her life.

STEP 1 - Gather Your Materials


  • Canary Cutter
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Making Materials

  • Cardboard

These tools, with the exception of markers, can be found in our Tinkering Toolkit.

STEP 2 - Plan out Plane Parts

In this guide, we are using the interlocking slots method to make cardboard planes. Use as much cardboard as you need to make a plane in the sizes that you want, but start by thinking about how many parts you need to draw and cut out.

A basic plane design would need these three parts: The body, wings, and tail.


STEP 3 - Put Parts Together and Display

Using the canary cutter, cut your plane parts out and cut the slits with scissors. Put the plane together and think about how you can display them! Create a stand for the plane to sit high on a desk. Want it to float? Tie a string to the top and hang it from a high place! Decorate it some more.

STEP 4 - Add and Expand as needed

Challenge: Design a Cardboard Plane that will glide when thrown across the air.

How does the plane go through air? Does it glide at all, or does it just fall? Ask yourself these questions to see what you can do differently for the next iterations you test out.

Will it help if we change the position of the wings? What if we change the shape of the wings? What if we use a different shape for the plane's body? What if we change the angle of the wings? Should we change the type of cardboard we use? Would we benefit from using cardboard that's a little lighter?

Make many iterations and explore!


For any tips on how to use specific tools safely, visit our Youtube library for Tiny Techniques.


Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources to access our Tiny Techniques videos and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your cardboard planes, share it with friends and family. If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We'd love to see yours!

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