This lesson plan about the Wright Brothers uses the book Wee and the Wright Brothers by Timothy R. Gaffney and is perfect for children in first and second grade. Young children will love this story about about a little mouse who lives in the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop and secretly travels with the determined inventors to Kitty Hawk, where he becomes the first mouse to fly in an airplane. The book is a little on the long side, so you may want to read it over two days.
- Large piece of chart paper
- Sticky notes
- Paper and pencils for each child
Begin by showing the children the book Wee and the Wright Brothers by Timothy R. Gaffney. Ask if anyone has heard of the Wright brothers. Divide a large sheet of chart paper into three sections to make a KWL chart. Under the K (what we know) write the things that the students know about the Wright brothers. Then work with the students to make a list things they want to learn for the middle, W, section of the chart.
After you have finished the first two sections of the chart show the class the book again. You might want to explain that this book combines both fact and fiction to tell the story of the Wright brothers first flight in an airplane. Begin reading the book and as you read as questions about which things they think are fact and which are fiction to make sure that they understand.
When you have finished reading and discussing the book, fill in the last section of the chart with the things that the children learned about the Wright brothers. To make sure everyone participates, give each child two or three sticky notes to write the things they learned and then read them aloud and add them to the chart.
As an assessment have the children pretend that they are Wee and write a newspaper article detailing the Wright brothers first flight. Tell them to be sure to include the work that led up to the flight. For younger students you may want to leave the KWL chart up as a reference, but remove the chart for older children. Before they start writing go over the things they should include in their article. Explain how to use the question words (who, what, when, where, why and how) to help them include all of the important information in their articles.
More Teaching Ideas
- Give the children a list of events from the book Wee and The Wright Brothers and have them sort the events into the facts and the fiction. After they have sorted them, have them put the fiction events aside and glue the facts onto a piece of paper in chronological order.
- Read more books about the Wright brothers and then have the children complete character graphic organizers about the brothers. The Story of the Wright Brothers by Michelle Prater Burke, My Brothers' Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville, and Me by Jane Yolen and First Flight: The Wright Brothers by Caryn Jenner are good choices.
- Add some math and science into your Wright Brothers lesson plans. Let the children make paper airplanes and fly them. Measure and record how far each plane flew. When you are finished Have the children make graphs to show the distances the planes flew.