Thematic Unit: On the Move with Transportation

While this time of year is a great opportunity for studying a Food Unit (or jumping right into Winter Weather if you’re getting the kind of storms we’ve been having) it’s also an ideal time to explore transportation.  With the holidays coming, many children will either be travelling themselves, or waiting for family members to arrive.  It’s a perfect opportunity to make connections between what they’re learning and exploring and what they’re experiencing in their lives.

Here are some links from around the web for some fantastic learning activities, as well as some of my own, marked with an asterisk, which I will be posting (and linking back here) in the days to come!  Please share links to some of your favorite transportation activities as well!

Concepts:  (You didn’t think I’d just give you a list of “cute” activities did you?)  A transportation unit is the perfect time to spend some time sorting and categorizing; exploring science concepts like motion, momentum, thrust, and buoyancy; and experimenting with the ways we can move our own bodies.

Dramatic Play

Rocket Ship*

Train Station*

Working Tables (small manip/fine motor)

Geoshape Transportation Patterns : You can buy a set, or just look at some of the patterns to create your own outlines on manilla folders!

One of my favorite transportation puzzles


Driving Cars in Paint: Try it with or without the road, on a paper covered table or on individual papers in art trays!

Transportation-themed Cookie Cutter Painting or Gluing

Marble Painting (remember, it’s about motion)

Cut and Glue Roadways

Decorate these Straw Rockets (I found die-cuts at the dollar store!), then find a spot to experiment!

Sensory Table

Cars in Colored Rice

Water and objects for Sink or Float Experiments

Outer Space Sensory Bin (I found some great astronaut figures at a party store!)

Block Area

Add to your usual blocks with:

Train Tracks

Car Mats (Even create your own like these)


Car Wash with Toy Bikes

Trikes and Traffic Signs/Chalk


Wagon Wheel Pasta: Talk while you eat–> Brainstorm all the vehicles you can think of that use wheels.  I was impressed when one child recently reminded me that even airplanes have wheels!

Travel Mix*

Large Group Activities

Take a Trip*

Parking Cars: You can extend the linked activity to include numbers, shapes, or even make your stalls out of colors and find cars to match.

Seat Belt Safety*

Transportation Graphing*

Row Row Row Your Boat: I assume you don’t need this linked!  Mix it up by teaching them how to sing in a round, or play a simple “Go”/”Stop” game using signs to signal when to start and stop singing.  Helps improve attention and impulse control.

Bodies in Motion: Have children move like they’re in a car, boat, train, plane, rocket, etc.  Use it to transition from one place to another, as well!

Who Has the Car: Like this game, but with….a car, of course! 

Book Activities

Bunnies on the Go by Rick Walton: Sorting

I Spy A Freight Train by Lucy Micklethwait: Balloon Rocket

Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw: Foil Boats

Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton: Film Canister Rockets (With some experimenting, we discovered that less water = higher blast off!)

If I Built a Car (love this book) By Chris Van Dusen: Creative Cars

Stay Tuned for More!

Top photo by Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo.

Center photo by Jane Cleary.



Leave a Reply