transportation activities

Transportation Play #13: Transportation Counting Activity

Make the day count with this simple transportation counting activity that also helps to develop number sense. These are two early math skills for kids.


In urban areas, there are lots of red, yellow, and green traffic lights. You can make a traffic light counting board with a piece of paper or cardboard. Down the left side, print the numbers from 1 to 5 or for kids that are keen about numbers from 0 to 10. Across the rows, draw the appropriate number of circles for each number. Zero has no circles, one has 1 circle, etc.

To make the traffic lights, for kids beyond the everything-in-the-mouth stage, you can use red, yellow, and green buttons. Or you can use something that kids can eat, such as dried cranberries for the red and mini-Ritz crackers for the yellow. Green is a little trickier, maybe frozen green peas? We looked through our button supplies and found a dishful.

Big Sister counted and filled the circles, going in a line from left to right. Little Sister filled in the circles at the bottom corner. While Big Sister could tell the numbers when she looked at them, Little Sister had to count down from zero until she got to the name.
Counting is much more than just knowing the name of the numbers and how to say them in order. Counting means understanding the relationship between numbers and objects. Each number going up means one more object.

Number sense is an awareness of how many items for each number. For instance, two has one thing and another thing. That’s all. Two isn’t lots, it’s a small number. For kids, 10 is really lots. Some kids might notice how the number of circles in this transportation counting activity and board get bigger like stairs.

transportation counting activity

As with so many other skills, kids develop accurate counting and number sense from play experiences and everyday opportunities. Do kids need to know how to count to 10 before kindergarten? What they need is to have some familiarity with numbers so numbers do not feel strange and bewildering. This happens by such ordinary activities as counting, talking about numbers, noticing them in the neighborhood, and using them in play activities. What do you do to make your day count?


In the following article, by blogger Jenni B of DearMum, there are more ideas for early math fun.

How to Incorporate Math throughout the Day with Your Toddler

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(image credit:

If you asked any kid, no matter how old, what their least favorite subject in school is, the answer is most likely going to be mathematics.

Frankly, who can blame them? Even as adults, many of us still hate having to do anything math related, which is unfortunate since mathematics is one of the most important subjects that can shape our future. Study after study, researchers have shown that kindergarteners with elementary level math skills demonstrated better academic performance than the children that excelled in other areas.

While there are a myriad of mathematical art projects that combine creativity with systemic learning at elementary levels, the skills cultivated early on will set your children up for a future academic career. This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a math tutor before they’re old enough for school, as there are plenty of ways to teach math throughout the day, whether you’re out shopping or simply having some playtime with the kids, without making it appear as a structured math lesson.

At the grocery store
Working with prices may be too advanced for children at a very young age, but you can improve their skills in counting numbers by helping you pick out vegetables, eggs, and any other items that can be selected in multiples. Have your kids say the numbers out loud as they pick out the food. You may even ask them to add or subtract items to get a certain total.

During playtime
Many have forgotten the importance of playtime as parents fill their kids days with sports, piano lessons and dance classes. Although there is no defined structure for playtime, this is when your kid develops a foundation for all skills learned in later years. There are loads of mathematical concepts to learn with toys and games. Prime examples include puzzles that develop spatial skills, play money that improves counting skills, and building blocks that introduce geometry skills. Simple number board games designed like Snakes and Ladders are also helpful for preschoolers, as the Phi Delta Kappan Common Core explains, “It provides multiple cues to both order of numbers and numbers’ magnitudes or how big and small numbers are in relation to one another.”

In the kitchen
An effortless way to build early math skills in our young ones, having your kids in the kitchen with you will help them understand basic math and science concepts. The main thing you as the adult need to keep in mind is using kid-friendly recipes, ones with uncomplicated measurements and ideally can be accomplished on their own (with parental supervision, of course). As they grow older, you can also teach them about time and temperature.

dearmumblog-jennifer-birchAuthor Bio: DearMum/Jenni B
DearMum is an auntie of two preschoolers that love to bake cookies with her and go on grocery trips with her. With all the time she spends with her children, she tries to incorporate learning with all the kid’s activities. Watch out for her own blog soon!

#12 Making Patterns with Transportation Toys

When cars, trucks, trains and other toys are spread out on the floor one way to extend children’s play is making patterns with transportation toys.

making patterns with transportation toys

Little Sister was playing with her Duplo train and blocks. As she played, I lined up a few cars in a simple pattern of red/blue, red/blue and put some other red and blue ones close by. Instead of interrupting her, I talked to the train cars and said, “Hello train. Did you see I put some cars in a pattern? They go red, blue, red, blue. It’s just the same.” I asked Little Sister what color of car would come next and said the color names while pointing to the cars. Together we figured out a red car would come next. She was able to say blue would come after the red one by herself.

Why is making patterns important? The amount of information coming at the brain can be overwhelming. One way to reduce this overload is by noticing and using patterns. Instead of remembering the colors of 5 train cars in a row, the information can be condensed to red and blue. Because a pattern is repeated, that row of train cars could be expanded to dozens of them and still only two words are needed.

Kids won’t understand patterns the first few times you do this. They need lots of experiences in order to figure out how patterns work. Once they have the idea,  they can make more complicated patterns. An example of that might be car/car/truck, car/car/truck.

Patterning is a powerful brain strategy. In the article How Learning Patterns Leads to Brighter Children, Matt Powers states: “Out of all mental skills, pattern recognition is said to have the highest correlation with general intelligence.” He explains how patterns also help social skills. Kids use patterning skills to predict behavior and respond to others.

Making patterns with transportation toys is a play activity that gives a turbocharge to thinking. What’s the pattern of play at your house?

#11 Transportation Activities Playground Fun

Transportation activities playground fun is today’s play-of-the-day. Is there a playground in your neighborhood close enough for you and your child?

transportation activities playground fun

Most children’s playgrounds have some piece of equipment to do with transportation. One of Little Sister’s favorite playgrounds is the race car park. There’s a small blue race car for bouncing just right for 1 or 2 kids. She also likes to ride her bike there and back. We go fairly often, on hot days and cold, and dress for the weather.

transportation activities playground fun

In another playground, instead of a race car, there’s a bulldozer. Although kids aren’t building roads, they are certainly building muscle strength. As kids play on equipment, they are also developing both an awareness of how their body feels as it moves and of the body’s position in space.

transportation activities playground fun

Playgrounds are also lots of fun for imagining. The wheel is another common structure on playgrounds. Kids can imagine driving a car or steering a bus. It could be the wheel on a ship or on a big truck.

transportation activities playground fun

There might be a tunnel for trains. Although it sounds like a contradiction, imaginary play is one of the ways children interact with the world. They are trying out their ideas about the real world to see if they fit. Of course, they are also exploring fantasy worlds as they stretch what they know and think.

transportation activities playground fun

Besides the physical and intellectual stimulation on a playground, there’s also social and emotional. Kids will test their own developing abilities and challenge their fears. Something that was too high, too scary, or too fast last week might be okay this week. On a social level, kids practice taking turns, sharing, and waiting. These are basic social and emotional skills that come into play. It really is a playground.

Transportation activities playground fun delivers lots of learning too. Could some time on the the playground be part of your child’s day?

Transportation Play Activities #10: Transportation Sensory Play

The weather finally gave us some sunny breaks, making it warm and dry enough for a car wash and  other transportation sensory play outside. Kids can certainly play outdoors in any weather, but we needed some sun to dry newly washed cars and trucks and other toys and for new discoveries. Cars and trucks and … Continue reading Transportation Play Activities #10: Transportation Sensory Play

Transportation Play #9: Transportation Movement Activities

How do cars and trucks go? Zoom, zoom. How do kids go? They go zoom, zoom too and more with these transportation movement activities. Kids will often zoom around like cars and trucks complete with sound effects. We can add in a few ideas to extend their movement play. How would an airplane go? Kids … Continue reading Transportation Play #9: Transportation Movement Activities

Transportation Activities #8: Transportation Puzzle Play

Sometimes we forget there are other ways to play with cars, trucks, trains, and boats than tracks and roads. How about some transportation puzzle play? No matter what the form of transportation or the material of the puzzle–wood, foam, or cardboard, play with puzzles pieces together lots of fun and learning. These points below are … Continue reading Transportation Activities #8: Transportation Puzzle Play

Transportation Play Activities #7: Boat Float or Sink

This boat float or sink play-of-the-day is brought to you by World Ocean’s Day. The kitchen sink or a container of water will be your child’s ocean. Kids are natural scientists, exploring constantly. This boat float or sink play is a voyage of discovery, fun, and learning that happens right at home, at the kitchen … Continue reading Transportation Play Activities #7: Boat Float or Sink

Transportation Activities #6: Children’s Transportation Songs

There are so many great reasons to include singing in your child’s day. For inspiration, here are two children’s transportation songs. One of the most popular children’s transportation songs is The Wheels on the Bus. It’s been around for generations of kids and recorded by many children’s musicians and bands. There are translations in dozens … Continue reading Transportation Activities #6: Children’s Transportation Songs

Transportation Play Activities #5: Simple Straw Rockets

Science can be easy and still amazing. These simple straw rockets are super fun and use the most ordinary of materials. The results are exciting. To make a straw rocket, you will need paper, scissors, tape, and a straw. Cut a sheet of regular, photocopy paper in any color. Fold it in half the short, … Continue reading Transportation Play Activities #5: Simple Straw Rockets

Transportation Activities #4: Transportation Toys Play Outside

To say transportation toys play outside isn’t really accurate; it’s kids that play outside with these toys. The play is in the child, not the toy. Kids of both genders and various ages and stages of development play with cars and trucks outside. Taking these toys outside not only gives kids more space, it also … Continue reading Transportation Activities #4: Transportation Toys Play Outside