When asked where they would like to go on a journey, the Kindergarten class had difficulty thinking of a destination. It was my plan to study some geographic area, but that was not what appealed to the children---they wanted to study airplanes and things that fly---it didn't matter where the flying machines were going, it was getting there that intrigued this class. So, off to the library I went in search of a collection of books on airports, airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons and other objects that fly or float in the air.
We began our study by talking about air currents and air pressure and how understanding the way air moves was important when humans were trying to develop the first aircraft. We learned about the Wright Brothers and conducted some experiments with air pressure and air currents. We figured out how to create objects that could float or glide along on the air (e.g. parachutes, kites, paper airplanes). We read books about airplanes and airports, learned the names of the parts of a commercial airplane and created our own miniature wooden aircraft. We painted a sky mural in the dramatic play area and filled it with child created paper flying objects. We built an airport in our classroom using blocks and set up an air traffic control station and a ticket desk that was used regularly to schedule flights to wherever our imaginations could take us! We found a bunch of cardboard boxes in the recycling and used them to make our own flying machine (although in the end the process was more fun the product). We read about helicopters and how rotors are designed to allow helicopters to fly vertically, and then spent a couple of afternoons flying whilygigs and flying discs all over the playground. Later, we made two varieties of paper kites and tried flying those around outdoors as well.
We read tons of non-fiction and fiction books about flying machines and flights of fancy during this unit. We wrote our own fictional air travel stories, too! It was a fun unit and one that proved difficult to bring to an end---there is just so much to learn and so much to do!