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Crafts And Conversation: Clothespin Airplane With The DUCK Lab

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

Get crafty with the DUCK Lab! Each Friday, trained research assistants from the UNCG Psychology Department’s DUCK Lab will guide at-home crafts for children ages 3 to 12. Parents can join too to learn fun facts about crafts that foster age-appropriate skills or learn about the DUCK Lab’s nonprofit child development research projects. 

This Friday, the DUCK Lab invites all school-age friends to join Kimmy for an awesome aerospace activity: make a clothespin airplane! Follow along as Kimmy takes you through each step and watch these simple wooden pieces transform into a neat airplane model.

Parents, did you know?

This airplane craft engages your child’s causal reasoning and early engineering skills! Read on below for more info. about the connection between these types of activities and age-appropriate developmental milestones.

We also invite you to check out our child development research opportunities, which are now modified for the virtual world! Please click here to learn more or sign up to participate with us.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


  • Clothespin

  • Popsicle sticks ("jumbo" and small)

  • Glue

  • Markers, stickers, or foam shapes for decoration


  1. Near the front of the clothespin opening, glue a "jumbo" popsicle stick perpendicular to the clothespin, across the top of it.

  2. Glue a second "jumbo" popsicle stick perpendicular to the clothespin, across the bottom of it. The jumbo popsicle sticks will form the wings for the front of the plane.

  3. Glue the small popsicle stick to the other end of the clothespin. The small popsicle stick will form the back wing ("tail") of the plane.

  4. Decorate as desired!

The DUCK Lab: Clothespin Airplane

Relation to Developmental Science:

Children’s causal reasoning abilities become increasingly complex across childhood. For this craft, these expanded abilities connote that older children might be more knowledgeable about airplanes, such as why they fly. As a result, they might decorate this craft in a way that is practical for flight. For example, older children might decorate and focus heavily on the integrity of the wings so they can fly their craft without the wings breaking off. Younger children may not construct the airplane with flight as their first concern. Additionally, and also given older children’s growing causal reasoning, parents can chat with their children about why different parts of the plane are positioned in specific positions, or what might inhibit the plane from successfully flying. Discussions can start with the craft but then expand to what happens with a real-life plane. For example, parents can explain that the wings are an important part of the both a real and a craft plane, and any issues there would result in serious problems.

**Great for older children!**

The DUCK Lab is a partner in the nonprofit Child Development Research Center in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. They conduct studies of social and cognitive development with 2- to 12- year-olds. Families who participate in their research studies are volunteers in the Greensboro community who generously offer their time to help support research and training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

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