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Airport Code SSDS K-1: How the Lower School Got Its Own Airport

by Sondra Kaminsky (Kindergarten Teacher)

It began when were walking from the music room to the science room, up the back staircase.¬† There was nothing on the walls and I said it seemed very plain in there. One child said it was empty. ¬†Another said it was boring. I said it reminded me of getting on an airplane from the terminal….and that was it. One of the children suggested we make an airport.

We began by making a mural of airplanes up in the sky. Then someone said that we needed a terminal. We began to work on the terminal, the check in, the security, the restaurants and shops, the baggage claim. Next we needed planes taking off from the runway… We were clearly not finished!

We had to have people watching the planes take off from the terminal. I emailed parents to send any photos of the children over vacation time if they were going on an airplane or in a terminal (we have a photo section). Then we needed a control tower and one of the children said we needed some maps to show where the airplanes go… So we made a map. The children even made things from different places to put on the map like oranges in Florida, the Eiffel tower in France, tea in Seattle because one of our Grandmas lives in Seattle and she likes to drink tea… One child said “Wherever we go, we have to keep Schechter in our hearts.” and that became the caption on the map.¬† We wrote books and poems and signs for important things to remember at the airport (no liquids, gate numbers, fasten your seat belt, etc.). The project had a life of its own over a two month period. The children chose to spend time during their free choice/play time. I was beginning to wonder what they were imagining and whether it would meet their expectations…

We had an opening ribbon cutting ceremony (also suggested from the children) and we invited the other kindergarten class. The K-1 children were the tour guides. We even served refreshments in the form of airplane cookies. We also had tours with the first grade classes and the children brought their parents through the airport. I thought we were finished but I heard from parents on Friday that their child said “we are not finished, we can always add more!”

What I especially love about the whole project is that it was child initiated, every step of the way. The children were so excited and worked so well together as a community to produce this airport. We used all our curricular areas to have this developmental based unit come alive. I am sure they will remember this for a long time and every trip to the airport will bring a reminder of this happy learning time with their kindergarten friends.

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