If you’re exploring a transportation theme, here’s a fun little ditty about transportation I found years ago. (I didn’t write down where I found it, so if you know the original author let me know!) It’s a fun piggy-back song, to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle:
Take a bus or take a train,
Take a boat or take a plane.
Take a bike or take a car,
May be near or may be far.
Take a rocket to the moon,
Just be sure to come back soon.
This is a fun song that the children enjoy and it gets them thinking about the different types of transportation. I like to write the words up on chart paper and then have a picture to go with a few of the words. I’ve attached pictures here. As I’ve said before, I don’t offer these because I think I’m a talented artist, but because they’re done. (Sometimes done is better than perfect!)
After getting familiar with the song, I’ll often ask the children about the rhyming words in the song. Then we’ll talk about other words that might rhyme as well. On another day I may ask about words that start with the same letter and sound (bike, bus, boat). As the children become more familiar, I may remove the pictures and have them add them above the corresponding words. Even if the children aren’t “reading” I think it’s valuable for them to make the connections between the written and spoken words and their meanings.
Now if you want to get more bang for your buck (and who doesn’t?), you can also use this song as a springboard for a math activity. Use a few of the pictures from the song as the base pictures for a graph. Use the post-it method or unifix cubes to count out one-to-one how many people in your group have used each type of transportation in the song (or just a few if you’re worried about attention). If you’re working with just one or two children, have them survey people! Create a sheet with the pictures and have them record hash marks as their respondents answer about the types of transportation they have used. They could ask people in your own home, or make some phone calls to friends and family!
Graphing with young children not only teaches them that specific skill, but reinforces one-to-one counting (one object to one number), greater than/less than comparisons, and representational thinking. If you’re currently working on recognizing written numbers, you could cap off your graph with the written numbers of the totals below the pictures.
And last of all, what would a unit on transportation be without a little talk about safety? This is another activity I picked up years ago. Place a ball or a marble inside a cup. Tell the children that this is them inside a car. “Drive the car around on the floor (making the requisite car noises, of course), and then make a sudden stop (and yes, you have to say, “Errrrrch”). Thanks to Newton’s law about objects in motion staying in motion, the ball will roll out of the car. Talk about what that could mean for them. If they’re in a car and the car stops, they will keep moving and could fall over or even out of the car.
Now ask who buckles up when they take a trip in the car. Give the ball some buckles by taping it in. Drive the car around again and make some sudden stops. As Newton would explain, that object in motion has now been interrupted by an equal and opposite force. The ball stays safely in the cup. Talk with your little ones about the importance of wearing seatbelts so that they can stay safe in their cars.