My best lesson - Buckle up to help pupils' imaginations take flight

Becky Chappell

Once a year, I invite the local fire crew into my early years classroom. But although the children always get hugely excited when they arrive, my favourite lesson involved a different sort of crew. My best ever visitor, who was also the parent of one of my pupils, was a flight attendant for British Airways.

We were studying the topic of transport and she suggested I turn the classroom into an aeroplane, to which she would come along in her cabin crew uniform. She provided me with boarding passes, passports to complete, seat numbers that matched the boarding passes, a captain's hat and trays for refreshments.

While the children were outside during playtime, I completed a radical makeover of my classroom, putting the chairs in four rows with an aisle down the middle. I placed tables around the edge to represent the outside of the aeroplane and numbered all the seats.

When the children came back in, Freddy was chosen to be the pilot and Aimee the first captain. The rest of the class, or "passengers" as they were now called, queued up outside the room ready to board the 2.30pm flight to Paris.

Freddy and Aimee checked the weather on the internet to ensure that flying conditions were perfect. Then, with the passengers safely in their seats, the cabin crew slammed the classroom door and told the pilot that we were ready to take off.

Sitting in our aeroplane was a great time to talk about the children's own experiences of flying and to discuss key words such as cabin crew, boarding, aircraft, passport and pilot. The children were so much more engaged with the topic than they would have been had there been no activities.

Before we knew it, the cabin crew were bringing round biscuits, bananas and water. At this point, the headteacher appeared at the classroom door, but we told her that we couldn't open it because we were mid-flight. She happily said she would come back another time.

A week later, I heard one pupil say: "Do you remember that afternoon when we flew to Paris? I am going to be a flight attendant when I grow up."

I knew then how effective the lesson had been.

Becky Chappell teaches a Reception class at a school in Poole, Dorset

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Becky Chappell

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