Building Airplane Models with Your Kids

Building Airplane Models With Your KidsWhen it comes to fun, rainy-day activities, making model airplanes is a classic. Though model planes have changed a lot over the years, they still make a great hobby for children and parents alike. Most kits are best suited for older children, but there are a few that allow even young kids to join in the fun, too.

Model airplanes come in three types: radio controlled models that are motorized and actually fly, ones that glide like fancier versions of a paper airplane, and plastic models that are only for display. The motorized paper airplane kits are better for older kids and teenagers. These are often expensive, and require some knowledge of how to assemble the body, and set up and maintain the motor. They provide an on-going hobby, however, since parents and kids can have fun together while taking the RC plane to the park for flying sessions, and spending time working on maintaining the plane’s motor and touching up the paint.

Model airplanes that glide are good for younger kids. These kits can be as simple as two precut, preprinted pieces of cardboard, plastic, or Styrofoam with a small plastic weight in the nose, or as complicated as kits made from balsa wood that require cutting, assembling, and painting. Once these are assembled and finished, they can be “flown” by being gently tossed, very similarly to a paper airplane. Their low cost and lack of a motor or other moving parts make them good activities for younger children and parents to work on together, and, though their inexpensive materials generally means that these planes don’t last long, they can serve as an introduction into the model airplane building hobby.

Lastly, there are plastic models for display. These come in a wide variety of real-life plane makes and models, from modern fighter jets to World War II era bi-planes. Their multiple pieces and need for glue, paint, and small decals makes them better suited for older children, but they are much less expensive and complicated than RC planes. Many kids will need a parent’s help with these models, since they often have tiny parts, and a lot of model airplane glue is messy, has hazardous fumes, and will bond skin on contact. However, the finished models are often highly detailed and beautiful to look at, and a lot of adults still have the model airplanes they built as kids with their parents.

Though not all types of model airplane are suitable for all ages, there’s a plane out there for everyone. Building planes is a timeless hobby that children have enjoyed for generations, and making them together is a great way for parents to spend quality time with their young ones.

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