During teacher’s convention this year, our conference treated us to a wonderful day trip to Mackinac Island. When I wasn’t bicycling around enjoying the sunshine and breeze, I was walking through town oohing and aahing over all the lovely little shops. Always thinking like a teacher, I am often inspired by store displays. This one especially caught my eye.

Paper Plane Window Display

It was a little card and stationary store. Because the island’s main transportation is bicycling, they had hung a wheel rim that had been painted white. From the rim, they hung paper airplanes folded from maps. Then they hung clouds cut from cardboard around the planes. Below the display, they had a stack of vintage suitcases with the one on top opened, holding cards and stationary. When I returned to school, it struck me that I could incorporate some of the ideas from this display into my celebration plans for National Aviation Day, August 19.

Since most people don’t use paper maps anymore, it was a bit of a challenge to find maps. I searched through some old National Geographic magazines that were in my classroom, but the maps had already been torn out. That’s when I headed to the thrift store. With a little bit of persuasion, I got a great “teacher” discount and plenty of maps. My students teacher also found some at the local university book store. I then cut the maps into 8 ½ by 12 inch sheets ready for folding.

Paper Plans from Maps

On the first day of school, which coincided with National Aviation Day, I sparked the students’ interest by showing them a video on the Wright brothers. I then walked them through the directions of folding a simple paper airplane, using the sheets of map.

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They did well, so we went on to a more complicated version; then, because the kids loved it, we did an even fancier version. At the end of the day, after all of our other aviation-themed activities, I let students take home extra map paper in case they wanted to research and fold additional planes.

All this was sparked by a store’s display window. Where do you find inspiration?