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Transportation #3: Hot Air

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students learn about the first documented hot air balloon flight.  The passengers were not people!  Who were they?  Teach this lesson and your children will find out the astonishing truth behind one of aviation’s exciting first flights.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Children will be able to retell the first hot-air balloon ride from aviation history.

Suggested Time:

30-40 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each child will take notes which will then be used to retell the story of the first hot-air balloon ride.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the children that last week the class worked on identifying different forms of transportation.  Did they discover any new ones since last week?  Did they have any new transportation experiences?

How long do you think people have been riding horses?  (Answer: About three thousand years.)  Driving cars?  (Answer: About 120 years, but not in all parts of the world.)  Flying in airplanes?  (Answer: About 115 years).  This week we will learn about a hot-air balloon ride that happened over 230 years ago – long before cars or airplanes were invented.

2. Main:

Teach Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman.

Use a globe or atlas to show children where France is.

Give the children time to complete their notes (see student handout.)

Ask questions to encourage deep thinking such as:

  • Why do you think that animals were sent up before people?
  • What do you think people thought when they saw something in the sky that was not a bird?
  • Would you have been brave enough to go up in an early hot air balloon? Why or why not?
  • What do you think the animals felt when they were in the air?
  • Why do you think the Montgolfier brothers wanted to invent something so new and different? Were they thinkers?  Risk-takers? (Try to tie to the PYP Profile.)

3. Conclusion:

Using your notes, what can you tell me about the first hot-air balloon ride?  Go over what you have written and try to retell the story to your parents tonight.  Next week we will still be learning about transportation, but we will have some rhyming fun.

Additional Resources:
  1. Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman.
  2. Clipboards
  3. Pencils
  4. Globe or atlas
Key Terms:

Hot Air Balloons, Transportation, Test Flights, France, Aviation, Aviation History, Transportation History

Amazon Link:

Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman.

student handout:

Student Handout, Hot Air

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