This history of flight unit study was designed to be used for grades 1st – 3rd, but could be modified for other grades.
Learn all about the history of flight in this free unit study.
Find out how planes fly, learn about early pioneers of flight and much more in this multi subject unit study.
Submitted by Cari S.
- The Story of Flying by Lesley Sims
- Planes by F. Patchett
- Planes and Helicopters by C. Gifford
- The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot, July 25, 1909 by Alice and Martin Provensen
- Biographies of early pioneers of flight
- Printable Activities List – Available in the Resource Library
The Story of Flying has vocabulary words and discussion questions listed below, but the other books could easily be replaced by books you can find about flying and airplanes from your local library.
Language Arts Activities:
Read the book The Story of Flying by Lesley Sims.
Look up the vocabulary words for each chapter.
Talk about the book. You can use the discussion questions listed below.
Vocabulary – soared, determined, enormous
Discussion Questions – Why couldn’t people fly by attaching wings to a bike? What was the problem with the glider that Felix du Temple built? Why didn’t inventors give up on flying? Do you think not giving up is a good thing? A word for not giving up is perseverance.
Vocabulary – propellers, cockpit, launching
Discussion Questions – Who were Wilbur and Orville Wright? What character quality did they have that helped them succeed? (hint: Did they give up very easily?) What type of design was the most popular at the very first airshow? What type of activity did people start using planes for? What do you think about that?
Vocabulary – astounded, mysterious
Discussion Questions – Who invented the hot air balloon? What did people call the balloon with a propeller? How long did it take the Graf Zeppelin to fly around the world? Why did people stop wanting to fly in them? Would that keep you from flying in an airship?
Vocabulary – Skycrane
Discussion Questions – What type of flying machine has rotor blades like an airship, but an engine like a plane? Who made the world’s first helicopter flight? What are some uses for helicopters?
Vocabulary – experienced, spectacular, glider
Discussion Questions – What are some reasons that people fly? What is the main difference between a glider and a plane? What are some stunts that skillful pilots might do? Do you think you would enjoy an airshow? Would you want to be a pilot? If you could fly a plane would you want to do stunts?
Vocabulary – satellites, astronomers
Discussion Questions – What country was launching rockets thousands of years before the invention of the airplane? What country launched the first space machine? What did Neil Armstrong do before any other human being? What do we call the vehicle that is launched into space with a rocket, but then flies like an airplane? Do you think you will ever travel into space?
Play some of these vocabulary and comprehension games.
Find out how planes fly from books and internet research.
Make a few paper airplanes. Experiment to see which ones fly farther, what factors affect performance, etc. The following sites will give you some ideas.
Add measurements to your experiment with paper planes. How far did the plane go that flew the farthest? What was the difference between the length of the longest flight and the length of the shortest flight? What was the range of flight? Use the Paper Airplane Flights worksheet to record your findings (available with the printable activities list in the free resource library).
Social Studies Activities:
Choose one or more pioneers of flight. Find out what was his/her contribution and a little about his/her life. The list below will give you some ideas.
- Sir George Cayley
- Orville Wright
- Wilbur Wrigh
- Louis Bleriot
- Anthony Fokker
- Amelia Earhart
- Igor Sikorsky
- Yuri Gagarin
- Neil Armstrong
- Sally Ride
Other History of Flight Resources:
- Amelia Earhart Lapbook
- Orville Wright Notebooking
- Wilbur Wright Notebooking
- Hot Air Balloon Unit Study
- Pioneers of Space Notebooking