The real goal: Keep him busy while I was teaching his older brother. Which failed miserably, by the way. He sure was busy. But when there's paper flying around the room it's really hard to concentrate on math. So I gave up on the whole "keep him busy" idea, and we'd all break out the box together on rainy afternoons or when we were feeling fussy and at loose ends or when one of the fine young gents pulled it off the shelf and said, "Let's play with this!"
We made helicopters from paper and paper clips, and rockets with paper, tape and straws. Parachutes. Kites. All sorts of gliders and planes from folded paper. We experimented with the length of the arms of spinning paper helicopters to see how they worked best. We found out that our paper gliders worked best on the stairs and even better if we gently let them go rather than flinging them.
Look at that face:
Science is fun! Heck, I had a great time making rockets and the like. And the box certainly encouraged both guided and independent exploration. So our goals were met after all.
Make a Science Activity Box: Flying Paper
A plastic tote or very large shoebox to hold everything
Paper (We used paper from the recycle bin.)
Coloring pages: Airplanes, hot air balloons, rockets, helicopters
Other supplies, like drinking straws or plastic grocery bags, will depend on the specific activities you choose.
Activity ideas. Check out Mudpies to Magnets(Robert A. Williams, Robert E. Rockwell, and Elizabeth Sherwood) and More Mudpies to Magnets(Elizabeth A. Sherwood, Robert A. Williams, and Robert E. Rockwell) or another preschool science book from the library, borrow one from a friend, or buy them. Or search the internet for activity ideas. I photocopy the activity page, place the items in a large Ziploc bag or a folder, and staple everything together. Instant experiment! The directions are right there with the materials.
Our Flying Paper box included these activities from More Mudpies to Magnets:
Dizzy Snake (p. 110): Draw a spiral on paper, cut along the spiral to make a hanging snake.
Parachute Drop (p. 124): Fabric parachutes were lots of fun to drop from the top bunk.
Spinner Helicopters (p. 124): Our favorite! Spinning cutouts weighted by paper clips. (You can find a similar template and simple lesson plan here.)
Paper Rockets (p. 126): Another favorite. Blast simple paper rockets across the room by blowing through a drinking straw. (Paper rockets are fun to make. Try these, or for a more challenging design, try this NASA paper rocket activity. Here's another fun paper rocket, and a rocket lesson plan.)
First Fliers (p. 134): Cut out and fold to make a paper glider.
Aerodynamic fliers (p. 138): Paper airplanes! (Basic paper airplane instructions and links to more paper airplane sites here.)