Learning About Flight Efforts in the 1900s

Learning about Flight
Learning about Flight

It was during the early 1900’s that flight took off (pardon the pun😁), with the very realistic possibility that man would take to the skies. I have to be honest and say that teaching flight wasn’t necessarily something that filled me with excitement. Choosing it as our science study for our 1900-1910 learning was maybe not the most sensible of options. However, it takes just one incredibly good resource to completely turn things around. And I am blessed to have, quite by accident, found such a resource, which made learning about flight a doddle!

Learning About Flight: Resources

Learning about flight

Flight School by Mike Barfield was such a good resource. It is SO much more than just a book and is perfect for all ages up to around twelve. It is simple and rather brilliantly begins to teach about flight from the humble seed all the way up to man’s foray into space. Not only that. For each page of learning, there is a corresponding paper model to make. These are simple cut out and stick models, easy enough for my nine year old to do completely by herself. The models themselves are on card stock, printed on both sides and literally require just cutting, folding and sticking:

To go along with this book, I chose three picture books. Don’t let the pictures fool you though. They are excellent, biographical, easy to read, books with gorgeous illustrations throughout. They added considerably to our studies, with each very much showing that success follows the consistent failure coupled with persistent determination to try again. This led to some useful conversation about character traits of ultimately successful people – determination; thick skinned; hard work and tenacity…to name a few:

Learning about flight

We all took it in turns to read all the books, including Flight School:

Learning about flight

Learning About Flight: Lessons

The beauty of Flight School was the fact that these lessons about flight required absolutely no planning at all. This was a pick up and go, which I did with some alacrity. It took us just a week to complete the book up to the time period we were studying, and to make all the corresponding models:

Learning about flight

Day 1:

We learnt about the mechanics of flight and how the very first animals to fly were the insects. We made a Meganeura, the largest insect known to science:

Learning about flight

And flew it:

We read about incredible insects, and made a model of the Monarch Butterfly:

And learnt about flying fossils, making a model of an Archaeopteryx:

Next in line, we learnt about birds and how they are specially adapted for flight. We made a Golden Eagle:

And a Kingfisher:

Testing their flying ability after each model was made:

Lastly, we learnt about bats, the giant golden-crowned flying fox, the flying squirrel, the draco lizard, Wallace’s flying frog, the coluga and the flying fish. We made a model of a colugo and the flying fish:

Learning about flight

Day 2:

On the second day, we read all about speedy seeds and how each one is designed especially for its purpose. We made two flying seeds, which the girls will eventually stick in their botany notebooks as examples of seeds and their dispersal (don’t you just love it when learning overlaps?):

Learning about flight

Then we came to the exciting part – man and flight! Perhaps surprisingly, Flight School begins with the legends of old, talking about Daealus and his son Icarus (who we learnt about last year); King Bladud from the UK; Greek philosopher Archytas as well as ‘The One Thousand and One Nights’, a collection of Middle Eastern tales including one with a magic flying carpet. Australia was next, with the advent of the boomerang which, of course, led onto a model (well, we couldn’t very well make a magic carpet, could we?!):

Learning about flight

Then, it was off to China, as we made a Chinese-style paper plane, followed by a Japenese-style kite:

The girls attempted to fly each and every one:

Day 3:

On the third day, we began reading a chapter entitled ‘Bird Brains’. This may or may not tell you that this was all about early attempts to get man in the air, with some quite comical results. One example was Clem Sohn, who called himself Bat-Man! He was more of a stunt’s man than a scientist, and glided more than flew. We made a model of him, for fun:

The book moves on to Leonardo da Vinci and his ornithopter, as well as Chinese sky lanterns which were used by the military to carry messages. This moved quite nicely onto hot-air balloons, on which was based one of the picture books I had bought, ‘A Dream of Flight’ about balloonist Alberto Santos-Dumonts. This was, once more, such a great book and well worth the read!

The next chapter, Avid Aviators, talked about Sir George Cayley and Otto Lilienthal and their gliders, which the girls made.

A Cayley Glider:

A Lilienthal Glider:

Day 4:

Day four was all about the Write Brothers as we read the chapter from ‘Flight School’ as well as ‘Taking Flight’ which Becca read to Abigail:

The girls made a mini Wright Flyer I:

Day Five

Our last day was spent learning about the ‘Flying Frenchman’ Louis Bleriot, who flew across the English Channel in 1909. This time Abigail read The Glorious Flight, a picture book about Bleriot’s flight across the channel:

They then made a model of the Bleriot XI Monoplane:

Learning About Flight: Extra Activities

Each day the girls write five plus sentences in their journals. Sometimes it is just about writing the sentences, which I check for spellings and grammar, but other times I have them write with another purpose in mind. This week I asked the girls to do a brief biographical piece on each of the three men they had read the books about. As a main activity for our Edwardian studies, the girls are creating a newspaper called ‘The Edwardian Times’. I want to use some of the writing activities to fill up the newspaper. Abigail did a really good job of writing her biographies, so I am going use them in a newspaper article about flight in the early nineteen hundreds.

For more history posts head on over to my history page

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.