Teacher Transforms Classroom Into a Flight to Mexico for Students Who Have Never Been on an Airplane
First grade teacher Sonja White from Cedar Hill, Texas just made one big wish come true for her students: getting on an airplane. Incredibly enough, White accomplished this from the comfort of her classroom, and the results might make you shed a tear.
As White posted on TikTok, she took her excited first graders on a pretend trip to Mexico. The simulation was complete with passport photos, airplane snacks, a souvenir shop, and delicious food like enchiladas. White told mitú that her students were very pumped for the activity: “They were so excited all week.”
“They asked me everyday if tomorrow was Friday because they were ready to go to Mexico,” she added.
The Trinity Leadership teacher posted her TikTok video last week, which went immediately viral with several million views. One special comment summarized many people’s reaction to the video: “This is the type of teachers students always remember 🥺👏.” The life-changers!
Another TikTok user commented, “You know what this really is???? Life skills!!! You’re amazing!” Yet another wrote, “I love teachers like this. The impact you guys have is so pure and will always be with them.” That part.
And since White simulated a Southwest Airlines flight for her students, some of the company’s workers want to get involved, too. “[Oh my God], Southwest [Airlines] flight attendant here!! Please [let me know] next time how to contribute! This was amazing! You’re amazing ,” one TikTok user wrote.
White told mitú she hopes her fun activity was a cultural learning experience for her students, too. “I also hope that they gained some appreciation for the Hispanic culture and the experience felt authentic to them.”
The teacher took her first graders on a mock trip to Mexico to fulfill a big wish for them
White’s attention to detail throughout her activity was awe-inspiring. This included setting up a passport and customs office for her students, making boarding passes, and changing her classroom into an “airplane.” Plus, the teacher even brought in “top-tier” class mom, Nathalie Vazquez, to make delicious, authentic Mexican food.
mitú had to ask White what inspired her to come up with such a creative activity for her students. Her response? She actually got the idea after hearing many of her students dreamed of one day being on an airplane.
“During circle time, which is where we sit in a circle and answer questions, I asked, “What is one thing that you have never done that you wish you had?’,” White recalled. “Many of my students said, “Get on an airplane.'”
White added, “I knew that I could not take them on a true airplane but tried my hardest to make it realistic for them.” She also said it was a great way to incorporate Latino Heritage Month in her class.
Once the first-grade teacher got her game-changing idea, it was time to get to work. As White described on TikTok, she took “passport pictures” of each student, laminated each boarding pass, and told her students to bring a carry-on bag to school.
That’s when her first graders got really pumped about the activity. White remembered, “They were so excited. I sent a packing list home and told them to pack by themselves and only ask for help if needed.”
Explaining, “I wanted them to take ownership for the entire experience. They also brought carry-on bags and suitcases so our trip would feel more realistic.”
And then, their “trip” to Mexico finally arrived. White set up her classroom’s chairs to simulate a plane’s aisles, made a “Southwest Airlines” sign, and played a YouTube video simulating take-off and landing.
Non-stop flight 555 to Mexico was finally departing!
There were many funny moments, too, including students acting like they had a “rough landing”
As you can see throughout the heartwarming video, White pulled out all the stops to make her mock Mexico trip special.
The teacher set up a stand outside her classroom to check each student’s passport and boarding pass, “making sure they are who they say they are.” A teacher and TSA agent! The students were then presented with plane safety instructions and provided chips and juice as travel snacks.
One hilarious detail? White explained to mitú that some students were taken aback by the very realistic landing video simulation. “[One student] acted like we had a rough landing,” she remembered, describing “the students who put the neck pillows on as soon as the flight took off.” Our hearts can’t take this much cuteness!
Once the students arrived in “Mexico,” White became a “customs agent” to stamp their passports.
The teacher also remembers one student “asking if I can give his pet Axolotl a passport stamp.” Describing, “they were really into it.”
White also gave each student play money to go to the “gift shop” after landing, which included seven different gifts. This provided a great math activity for them: “They can give me exact change, or they can give me a five-dollar bill and tell me how much I owe them.”
One of the most incredible (and delicious) parts of the video, though? Of course, White providing her first-grade students with enchiladas, rice, chips, salsa, and what looks to be agua be Jamaica.
The teacher told us that one special class mom, Nathalie Vazquez, “cooked and purchased” much of the food. “She is a mom of five and blesses my class all the time. She prepared everything, set it up and still ran to the store to get us more serving utensils.”
“I could not have done it without her. She is a top-tier mom,” White added.
And while Vazquez made the students the enchiladas and rice, a student’s grandmother, Shanda Daniels, purchased the chips and salsa. It takes a village!
About the activity, White told mitú that she hopes it taught her students important life lessons about travel, and will continue to inspire them. “I pray that they have a true desire to travel and someday they are able to, if they have not already.”
“I believe that you gain a lot of culture from traveling and it is one of my favorite things to do,” she said.
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