Paper Airplane Exercise

Ultimate Ice Breaker? Making & Flying Paper Planes!

Following a screening in Norway of the film ‘Paper Planes,’ I was fascinated by the concept of using paper planes as an ice breaker and/or team building activity. It’s inexpensive, simple, quick, and entertaining! However, after Googling the concept, I quickly discovered that it has already been discovered for exactly that purpose.

So, while what I’m about to provide may not merit a PhD (or an award), it does come with its own formula that has been adjusted to my preferences.


For your Paper Plane icebreaker/team building activity to be successful, you should have the following materials on hand:

The presence of a lengthy hallway or open space (ideally 20 metres or longer)
Red tape is a hindrance to progress (to mark the launch line)
a measuring tape or a measuring stick (if possible)
A4 sheet of paper (80 – 120 mm, preferably different colors)
Keep an eye on the time (or a smart phone or tablet)
Honors and distinctions (e.g. chocolate bar for the winner)
Here are a few examples of how we might utilise paper aircraft as an ice breaker or team building activity to connect and engage those who are participating in the activity: 1.

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Participants are instructed to create the coolest paper plane they can out of a single sheet of paper. If they wish to decorate or colour the paper plane, that is acceptable; nevertheless, it is important to establish the regulations before the game begins, or else some competitive participants may complicate matters.

You might want to consider including an evaluation rubric to guide participants in order to make judging more objective. You might want to encourage self- or peer evaluation in this situation.

Another method is to give everyone the ability to vote for their favourite paper plane. If you have a larger group, polling tools such as Poll Everywhere (free version with a limit of 40 respondents) or Google Forms (free version with an infinite number of respondents) may be appropriate.


As an alternative to design, you could have players throw their freshly created paper planes as far away from a fixed point as they possibly could (using red tape). In an ideal situation, you would have a large hallway or an open space adjacent to or in close proximity to the workshop/training/classroom location.

If you want to distinguish between the paper planes, you might use A4 sheets in a variety of colours.


Instead of competing to see who can toss the farthest, challenge participants to create paper planes that can fly for the greatest period of time. This would necessitate the use of a stop watch to keep track of the time spent by each paper plane participating. You may also use Google Spreadsheet to maintain all of the times online, structured, and up to date in this case.


Assign each person a piece of paper on which they should write their name and two intriguing facts about themselves. Then have everyone fold their papers into planes in a single motion. Everyone should launch their paper plane into the air and then pick up a paper plane that has landed nearby. The person who picks up the paper plane must open it, read the information on it, and then locate the person who is the intended recipient. By reading the information on the paper, people will get to know someone else at the event, and they will relax as a result of the element of play that this exercise incorporates.


Finally, to add even more excitement to the activity, encourage participants to throw the paper plane at a target in the air. This might be anything from a cone to a landing strip to a bulls-eye to your own body. Participants will have a good chuckle as they try to hit you with their paper planes if you are the target in this exercise, which will make it even more entertaining. Simply maintain a safe distance (7 metres or more) to guarantee you have time to react in order to avoid damage.