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Homeschooling with the Microsoft Flight Simulator

Homeschooling with Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020)
 

This is probably not a great way to start this blog post, but I'm not an airplane person.  My family loves planes, though!  I married a Moody Aviation "flyboy" almost fifteen years ago, which started my journey into all things that fly.  He even owned a hang glider!  Now that we have kids, they also love to see airplanes, play with airplanes, and play on the flight simulator.  This past year, Microsoft updated their Flight Simulator for a new generation.  Since my 9, 8, and 7 year old homeschoolers spend a bit of time learning on it, I thought it would make a great blog post for this homeschool blog.


Learn physics, geography, and navigation with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  Plus a list for starting your own flight simulator at home.

Setting Up Your Flight Simulator

I dragged my husband into this blog post to get his take on the things you need to set up a flight simulator in your home.  As long as I've known him, he's been building flight simulators.  During the COVID break (March 2020), he and the kids started building a "full size" helicopter simulator on our porch.  I fully trust that he can give us a good list.


1- Microsoft Flight Simulator

The first Microsoft Flight Simulator came out in the early 2000's and was "The Game" for my husband and his aviation friends.  The 2020 version is amazing, with realistic graphics, lots of modern planes, worldwide flight plans, flying lessons, and more.  You can purchase the game on Amazon, through the Microsoft store, or on STEAM.  You will need Windows 10 to run the game, unless you buy it on a console.  All the recommendations on this blog post assume you're flying a PC.


2- Gaming Computer

Unless you already do a lot of PC gaming, you'll need to purchase a gaming computer for your young aviator.  It's a great idea to buy a computer that has all the processing, speed, and memory recommended by the game.  My husband picked out the computer in the link.  I like the glowing lights (haha).  Another possibility would be to modify an existing PC if you have the knowledge.


3- Airplane Yoke

We have a lot of USB yokes and pedals in our house.  He has bought some new, picked up a few used, and has even been given a couple.  He's also made several attempts to add more buttons and switches to the cockpit with homemade versions.  For beginners, the yoke that I linked above is a great option.


4- Flight Simulator Pedals

Another great accessory for making your PC into a flight simulator is the pedals.  They can be very pricey, but one set should last you several years.  Plus, they're good for other video games that use "gas and brake" like a car or racing game.  My husband said to check the Goodwill website for used pedals.


5- Spill-Proof Water Bottle

This probably sounds like a strange thing to add to the list, but if you're planning on spending a lot of time in a simulated airplane, you need to make sure you stay hydrated.  These spill-proof water bottles are great for keeping water nearby and safe for your electronics.  Plus, water is so much better than other drinks you might want to drink.


6- Random Accessories

I know my husband will roll his eyes at this section, but one of my favorite parts about having a husband and kids that are super into airplanes is all the random things I get to buy!  From the random home decor items like this Airplane Globe to clothing items like this Airplane Alphabet Shirt.  There are even great toys for kids like the Green Toys Airplane (and float plane and helicopter) and books like the picture encyclopedia Big Book for Airplanes.  Watch for an all airplanes blog post hopefully coming up soon!


Learning with Flight Simulator

As I mentioned in the beginning paragraph, we are a homeschool family.  I've been amazed how many different things the kids have been able to learn from the flight simulator.  Most of the time, the kids don't even realize they're learning.  If you're on the edge about video games for your kids, the simulator would be a great place to start.


Flying Lessons

If you've always wanted to learn how to fly an airplane, the flight simulator is a great place to start.  The video game comes with flying lessons and help prepare you for a real pilot's license.  The kids are very proud of their ability to to take off, fly, and land a variety of airplanes.  If your child has any interest in flying, grab the Microsoft Flight Simulator and get them started.


Physics of Flying

Aside from flying a real airplane, nothing will allow you to explore the physics of flying like the Flight Simulator.  The kids can "feel" the effects of gravity, lift, thrust, and drag as they take off and fly the fleet of airplanes in the game.  If you're rusty on flying physics yourself, check out this Youtube video.


Navigation

One of the important parts of flying is learning how to read the navigation instruments including the compass.  Our kids have gotten so excited about navigation that they're learning how to use a compass in real life, too.  There's also a lot of practice with map reading in the game, which has made my kids very interested in all sorts of maps.


Time and Clocks

One of my children learned how to read the "hours" on the clock from flying with the simulator.  I've been surprised how comfortable he is with clocks now.  In flying, the elapsed time is important for knowing where you are in space and how much further you need to travel.  The Flight Simulator is a great way to practice telling time.


Geography

The game allows you to fly out of any airport in the world, which give you a lot of opportunities to work on some geography skills.  Fly over the Egyptian pyramids, trace the route of the Amazon River, or fly across the ocean.  After reading about a state in our "50 States" book by Notgrass, we often take a little flight in the area from a major city to an interesting landmark.  It's a great way for kids to experience world geography!


History

Similarly to geography, kids can also use the Flight Simulator to look at the major historical events and locations, too.  From exploring the ancient cities to tracing the path of the Oregon Trail to the Spice Route, you can experience it all on the program.  Unfortunately, there isn't an official historical function on the flight simulator- all the things I mentioned will have to be mapped out and accomplished by the users.  I realize this makes it a bit complicated, but it also encourages kids to practice their planning, navigation, and geography to make it happen.


Math and Reading

This seems a bit like cheating since just about everything features math and reading, but I'm still claiming that you can do it in the game.


Well, I hope that was helpful and made sense to you.  As I mentioned in the beginning, I'm not very knowledgeable about airplanes, but I do have a whole family of aviation nuts.  I got their opinions and recommendations to make this blog post possible.  Please message me on Facebook if you have any additional questions.


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