Wright Brothers


Our Wright Brothers lesson plan teaches students all about the Wright Brothers and their accomplishments. Students will be able to speak about the Wright Brothers and what they contributed to flight. They will also build their own paper airplanes.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to plan a Wright Brothers Day where you teach multiple lessons related to flight and airplanes.

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What our Wright Brothers lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Wright Brothers introduces young students to the Wright Brothers, early flight, and shows how the two men did not give up even after several failed attempts at flight. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify the Wright Brothers, list their contributions to flight, and recognize that failures can lead to success. This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are white sheets of paper and the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One optional adjustment to the lesson activity is to have students make their own paper airplanes, including their own color and designs and naming them. You can invite a pilot or aviation expert to speak with your class. You can also plan a Wright Brothers Day where you teach multiple lessons related to flight and airplanes. Finally, you can have students share some experiences that they’ve had on airplanes.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


From Bikes to Flights

The Wright Brothers lesson plan includes three content pages. The lesson begins by reminding students that they have likely ridden a bike before. Bikes are a form of transportation that can be very fun to ride. It goes on to state that, a long time ago, two brothers lived who were very close and helped each other for their whole lives. They supported each other in many ways. Their names were Wilbur and Orville Wright, and we know them today as the Wright Brothers. Their parents were names Milton and Susan Wright. Wilbur was born in April 1867 in Indiana and Orville was born in August 1871 in Ohio. They had different personalities but were almost inseparable.

Wilbur was quiet, confident, did well in school, had a good memory, was a great athlete, and enjoyed reading and writing. He became depressed at 18 after getting injured while playing hockey. This made him less confident and more withdrawn.

Orville, on the other hand, was also shy, had a lot of energy, was curious about the world, and had an interest in science and technology that led him to do many experiments. He was optimistic and enthusiastic.

Both brothers were smart but, between the two, Wilbur was the thinker and Orville was the builder. They both liked to learn new things and studied on their own time in addition to attending school. In 1892, they opened the Wright Cycle Shop in Dayton, Ohio. They constructed bikes, which was a more complicated process in those days. Wilbur was 25 and Orville was 21 and they both loved their work. The brothers had a background in practical mechanics and knew how to build machines, which inspired them to try to build a flying machine.

Research and Testing

The first step in their process was to learn everything about aeronautical, or flight, knowledge. They read everything they could and spoke to as many people as possible between 1899 and 1902, about things like past hang-gliding flights. They discovered that the hardest part of this project would be controlling the flying machine and changing direction while in the air.

To solve this, the brothers looked at birds. Through their observations, they learned that birds use wind to help them fly and that they change the shape of their wings to help them change direction. This information helped them build wings for their flying machine.

The next step was testing their various designs. They did experiments with hang gliders and kites, but the tests didn’t always work like they thought they would. This made them question whether their designs and research would work at all. But they didn’t give up. Instead, they build a wild tunnel to help test different wings. They tested over two hundred different kinds! Eventually, they met their performance goals with their gliders. Through these tests, they learned that no one had build a successful flying machine before because everyone tried to move their bodies, instead of the machine’s wings, to control the direction. They decided to move the wings instead.

Up, Up and Away

Their next step was to continue testing their double-winged kites and gliders themselves. The brothers went to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for testing because the coastal winds were perfect for kite flying. They learned about the town from the United States Weather Bureau.

The brothers piloted over 1,000 flights using their gliders. When they were ready to test a powered flight, they were the obvious choice to fly it because they had so much experience as pilots already. They continued to hone their design, but could not find a manufacturer who was willing to build their engine. Therefore, they decided to build it themselves. They ended up building a 12 horsepower engine.

Between the frame and the engine, their flying machine weighed 750 pounds. It could go 31 miles per hour. On December 17, 1903, they completed the first manned and powered flight. Orville flew the machine, which was in the air for 12 seconds and flew 120 feet. That same day, Wilbur flew it for 59 seconds and 852 feet.

Their machine was damaged by the wind and the Wright brothers went back to Ohio to build another one. They shifted their focus exclusively to airplanes in 1905, and received a patent for their flying machine in May 1906.

Following that, they founded the American Wright Company, which continued to build airplanes, some for the U.S. government. They kept testing their models in Kitty Hawk. Wilbur died in 1912 from typhoid fever, and Orville decided to sell the company. He didn’t want to manufacture planes anymore, but he did continue experiments. He died in 1948 from a heart attack. We know the Wright brothers today as the pioneers of modern aviation.


The Wright Brothers lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will work with a partner to complete the lesson activity. Each pair will construct their own paper airplanes using the paper provided by the teacher. They will think about Orville and Wilbur Wright as they work. They will test different paper airplane designs and will answer some questions about their experience.

Students can either work alone or in groups to complete the activity.


The practice worksheet asks students to complete three short exercises. For the first, they will read ten statements and determine whether they’re true or false. For the second, the will read eight statements and tell whether each describes Orville or Wilbur. Finally, for the third, they will match five names or terms with their descriptions.


The homework assignment asks students to complete two short exercises. For the first, they will answer 12 questions about the lesson material. For the second, they will talk to an adult member about a time in their lives when they had a failure or disappointment and how they overcame it with hard work and write about it.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade


Social Studies

State Educational Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Erin M.

The Wright Brothers

This unit worked well to complement my unit on flight especially as we are doing distance learning. Enough information and the video links and resource links were helpful too.