I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

Ideas for a unit study using the FIAR book The Glorious Flight

A morning of paper airplanes plus a small herd of eager LITTLES equals a few hours of fantastical adventure...and maybe an accidental poke in the eye or two with the aforementioned airplanes, but we won't get into that!
For our final homeschool co-op book club meeting of the year, the kids and I flew all the way to France and back, through the pages of Alice Provensen's award-winning classic, The Glorious Flight.

This simple tale recounts the historic achievements of Frenchman and aviator Louis Bleriot who made the first-ever flight across the English Channel in 1909.

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

As I always like to do, before reading the book, I showed the kids the cover and asked if they thought it was a book that took place NOW or sometime in the PAST. A quick analysis of the clothing worn and the style of airplane shown in the illustration led them all to conclude that the story took place in the past. I was then able to introduce the setting: France 1909.

I unveiled a map of Europe and pointed out the following key places that are mentioned in the story: France, England, the English Channel, the white cliffs of Dover.

With that foundational knowledge, the kids were able to more thoroughly understand and appreciate the story.

After we read the book, I showed them some real video footage of the historic flight.

We, then, discussed all the many unsuccessful airplane designs Bleriot endured before he finally engineered the Bleriot XI, the plane which made it safely across the channel. We talked of character qualities like determination, perseverance, and courage.

Next came a humorous look at the airplane failures of early aeronautics.

Based on the video, we formulated some simple theories about what makes an airplane fly safely and smoothly. We, then, attempted to test our theories by making some paper airplane models.

With the help of a few DIY paper airplane books and some origami paper, we each made a paper airplane.

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

Because each person had his/her own thoughts on what would make a good airplane, all the airplanes looked unique.

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

I encouraged each "aviator" to name his/her airplane just like Louis Bleriot did and helped write these monikers on the wings of each plane. 

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

Next came a flight test. Or two. Or twenty.

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

Although I did not wish to turn this into a lesson in French culture but chose instead to focus on the history and engineering aspect, I thought French crepes would make for a tasty mid-morning treat. My mother-in-love graciously whipped up several dozen crepes which we stuffed with whipped cream and raspberries.

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

Since Bleriot used Roman numerals to name his airplane attempts, I made up some simple Roman numeral cards to teach the numbers 1 through 10. 

The Glorious Flight: A Unit Study

I first introduced all the numerals with their corresponding numbers, and then we played a matching game. I shuffled the Roman numeral cards and randomly passed them out. Then, I held up an arabic number card. The kids had to look over the Roman numeral cards that they had in their hand. Whoever had the corresponding card held it up and got to keep the match. The first person to completely match all of his/her cards, won the game.

I reshuffled the cards and we played again. Only this time, I passed out the arabic number cards and held up the Roman numeral cards.

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  1. That looks like such a great unit! I have always sort of envied unit-study folks...to me unit studies are so cool to watch other people do but so daunting to do myself. It seems like you (the teacher) have to know so much about a subject before you teach it in order to initiate those learning moments and conversations through the lesson. Is this true? The thing is, I am not that smart! I find I am usually learning right alongside my children as they learn new subjects. And it seems like I wouldn't be able to do those unit studies justice. But maybe my worries are all unfounded and ignorant.

    Do you find unit studies a lot of work to prepare for? For example- how much prep time did you do to lay out a plan to do roman numerals, watch those videos, discuss what you discussed, etc? Did you read up on anything to learn yourself BEFORE presenting to your kids?

    Rebecca @ www.zeahrenaissance.blogspot.com

    1. Some unit studies require more effort on my part than others. But to be honest, most of these mini units done for our book club take about an hour. I read the book before hand, make a short mental list of some of the key concepts from the book, and then do a google search for ideas dealing with those concepts.

      A couple things to remember about unit studies...
      1. You don't have to incorporate every subject into a unit study.
      2. You don't have to exclusively do unit studies, but can sprinkle little mini units into any curriculum throughout the year.
      3. There are several curriculums that have pre-fabbed units already put together for you.
      4. You do not have to know a ton about the topic before hand. I knew nothing about Louis Bleriot before reading the book. Just like all other types of methods, you learn right alongside your children as you go.

  2. I agree with Jamie! It doesn't really take that long but SO MUCH MORE ENGAGING for the kids and so much fun to teach! Great post and I love your mini-checklist in answer to Rebecca, Jamie. =D