Paper Planes

In the Paper Planes ESL activity, students follow or write instructions to make a paper plane, then have a competition.

Students for Paper Planes ESL Activity:2+Time for Paper Planes ESL Activity:20-40 mins
Resources for Paper Planes ESL Activity:
Recycled A4 Paper

Students normally do this activity in pairs. Each pair will need a couple of pieces of recycled A4 paper.

Pre-teach some relevant vocabulary for making a paper plane (e.g. fold, triangle). Show the students an example if possible.

  1. Students each design a paper plane.
  2. They then write step-by-step instructions on how to make their plane (at least five steps). Instead of using numbered steps, they should use sequence adverbs to indicate the order.
  3. They write up their instructions on separate slips of paper (or one which they then cut up).
  4. They shuffle their instructions and swap them with another pair.
  5. The students now try to order the instructions they have been given and make a plane from them.
  6. Now have a competition with the planes! The students write their names on the planes they have made, then take turns throwing them.
  7. Optionally (if you want to practise comparatives and/or superlatives, or ordinal numbers), the students make notes during the competition and write sentences after. For example, Erica’s plane flew further than Paula’s plane, Dev’s plane went the highest, Hong’s plane came third etc.

Tip: Only reveal the activity as you go – that way the students won’t try to sabotage each other’s planes with bad designs!

Target Language

The Paper Planes ESL activity is designed for beginner level kids. It could work with the right adult class too though.

It’s great for practising sequence adverbs, as students must both write and interpret instructions using this language. As detailed above, if you have a competition you can also include comparatives and/or superlatives, or ordinal numbers.

Got students who love arts and crafts? Try the Phonics Word Wheel project for younger kids, or the Fashion Show activity for older kids and adults.

Got a picture or video of this activity in action? How about snapping one next time you use it? We'd love to showcase your submissions- find out more here.