Upcycling for Kids: Cardboard + plastic biplane model

Ready for the Red Baron!

Ready for a Dogfight!

After the Chinese New Year holiday, we had a ton of Yakult bottles and empty cartons (from the boxes of oranges that people were exchanging) lying around, so J and I decided to turn them into a cool model Biplane!

I tried my best to model the biplane after the Sopwith Camel[1] that Snoopy uses in his epic battles against The Red Baron.


  • Cardboard scraps
  • Cardboard toilet roll 
  • Small plastic bottle (we used a Yakult bottle for this as it has the same diameter as a toilet roll)
  • Scissors
  • Any sticky tape or glue (PVA glue or white school glue is best. We used masking tape.)
  • Optional: Paint
Adding some colour

Adding some colour


1. Cut out the various pieces of the aeroplane out of the scrap cardboard and paint them. You will need two wings, two struts/wheels, one propeller and one tail fin (made out of a rectangle and a triangle shaped piece). I made a template of the various parts that you can refer to as a guide (or you can print it out, glue it to the cardboard and cut around it). Just click here to download the free printable template[2].

2. Create the plane body:

  • Attach the plastic bottle to the cardboard roll, so that the tapered end of the bottle acts as the ‘nose’ of the plane. We did this by jamming the Yakult bottle into one end of the toilet roll.
  • Glue or stick the propeller onto the ‘nose’ of the plane.
  • To make the tail fin, glue or stick a triangle perpendicular to the centre of a rectangle.
  • Cut 3 slits, about half an inch apart, on the other end of the cardboard toilet roll.
  • Slide the tail fin into the slits in the cardboard roll. The flat end of the triangle goes into the middle slit whilst both ends of the rectangle can be fitted into the slits on either side.

3. Add wings:

  • Cut 4 slits in the bottom wing of the plane, along the bold line.
  • Fold the struts/wheels along the dotted lines to make a U shape.
  • Slide the struts into the slits on the bottom wing of the plane, making sure that the wheels on each side are on the bottom of the plane, in the two slits in the centre.
  • Place the body of the plane in between the struts in the middle. Adjust the body so that one third of the plane sticks out in the front and two thirds at the back. Glue or stick into place. Adjust the struts so that the top of the struts are roughly flush with the top of the plane’s body.
  • Place the upper wing on top of the struts and glue into place.

Now you are ready to fly!

[1] Yes, I know that the Sopwith Camel propeller has only two blades on it! We used some artistic license ok?! Geez.

[2] Want to share this free printable? Thanks for being generous but please direct readers to this post for the actual file. All my downloads are intended for personal use only with your home printer. Commercial use or any sharing or distributing of these files is strictly prohibited.


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