Balsa Wood Gliders Vs. Plastic Toy Airplanes-Fun Activities for Grandparents and Grandchildren From The Baby Boomers Generation

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Putting on my "granny nanny" hat, I headed over for some fun activities for grandparents and grandchildren yesterday. Always on the look out for easy crafts for grand kids, not to mention seniors, I had already planned a toys airplanes day.

My grandsons and I love building paper airplanes. We usually get out a paper airplane design book or check some "how to fold paper airplanes" sites online. Then off to work we go.

Last week, thanks to Target's sale and my great "Valentine Bonanza," we actually had some cute and colorful printed ones on paper with a neat design, which were a bit heavier than normal. They flew great! Even better than our simple paper airplanes.

My grandsons loved building paper airplanes easily with the imprinted design on these Valentines

Yesterday, we "upped the ante" a bit and had a great time experimenting with different toys airplanes. Some were made of balsa wood and others were plastic vinyl rubber band powered model airplanes.

I have to admit, I was a bit leery trying the balsa wood planes. Being a part of the aging Baby Boomers Generation, I have some not-so-fond memories of them from my youth. It seemed like almost every time I tried to put them together, I would break them. And the ones that survived my fumbling broke within the first two or three throws!  

It was time to see if they have improved. I bought each of the grandsons a $1 balsa wood airplane, some $1 vinyl plastic toy airplanes, and onesuper-duper vinyl plastic airplane. Now mind you, these were obviously quite cheap. I'm not talking about the really nice, way more expensive, balsa wood model airplane kits. Balsa Wood Gliders is probably a better name to use, though we never called them that as kids. (At least, not that I remember. 🙂 ) And, unlike the really nice Rubber Powered Model Airplanes that run about $40, the "rubber band powered model airplanes" I bought used a stick with a sturdy rubber band to fling the plastic toy airplanes into the air.

As one of the members of the aging baby boomers generation I liked these much better than the balsa wood gliders of my youth

First we attempted to assemble the balsa wood gliders. Would you believe, it was just as bad as I remembered. My grandsons broke tiny pieces here and there and immediately handed them to me. I put my Granny Nanny osmosis to work, and promptly broke another piece! All we had to do was slide the main wing through a slit in the middle. But the slit was so tight, in order to keep it in place IF you ever accomplished this, that we kept breaking the wing. The tail and rudder did a bit better but not by much.

We ended up with two useable balsa wood gliders

Fortunately, I had bought a couple of extras. In the end, we wound up with two useable gliders which then flew "OK." For awhile! It was fun, but I've scratched these off my list of fun activities for grandparents and grandchildren for now. Maybe when they are older, we will try the deluxe balsa model airplane kits and see if those go better. 

Next, we pulled out the cheaper of the two plastic toy airplanes. These were much easier to assemble and worked really well. They were still going strong by the end of the day – a miracle with cheap toys and grandboys! 🙂 

This glider was the easiest from our activies day for grandparents and grandchildren

Our last test, the more expensive of the rubber band powered model airplanes, was also the easiest. We just pulled it out, grabbed our little airplane "Slingshot" and it flew wonderfully. At first, I wished I had gotten a bunch of them and none of the rest. But as the day went on, they continued to have fun with the other plastic toy airplanes. And the balsa wood gliders brought back plenty of other fun Baby Boomer Generation memories, so that was nice.

All in all, we had a terrific time and learned which toys airplanes we liked the best for the future. When it comes to activities for grandparents and grandchildren, that's a success in any Granny Nannies' book! 


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