Fun Hands-On Activities for a Preschool Transportation Theme

We’ve done some fun worksheets, cutting practice, matching, and letters for transportation, but what I want to share with you are fun preschool transportation activities! These fun, hands-on activities will teach your child a little science, math, and creativity. Plus, we learned lots of fun facts about transportation. So hop on board this train…or bus or bicycle, which ever mode of transportation you prefer, and learn along with us with these transportation activities for preschoolers!

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As a note, we do incorporate worksheets to practice matching, writing, cutting, reading, etc. (1plus1plus1equals1 is a great site to find printables) But we also use a lot of hands-on transportation activities to learn. I hope you find these useful and fun to teach your child about transportation!

Preschool transportation theme pin yellow trains with red wheels

What do you Teach Children about Transportation?

Overall, teach a little bit about everything! One of the important parts of preschool is just to discover and explore. Show you child different types of planes, different types of boats, different types of trains, etc. What is each one used for? What makes them different? What different parts are they made of? We even did some fun experiments that show that the design of planes makes a big difference in how they fly! Many of the books we read answer a lot of these questions in simple terms a preschooler can understand.

Is your child especially interested in trains? Boats? Planes? It’s fun to learn about all kinds of transportation, but if your child has a specific interest, it’s fun to give a little more weight to that.

Transportation Books for Preschoolers

We always read as many books as we can about a topic. This is a fun, easy way (with little prep!) to learn fun facts about transportation. Why are there different kinds of trains? How many types of boats can you name? What makes a plane fly? While I could give my best guess to all these answers, it’s more fun when my daughter can look at pictures and hear the actual answer to these questions.

Here are a few great books we read! We got ours at the library, so check there first! Otherwise, you can click on the links to buy.

Preschool transportation theme books

Books about Transportation for Preschoolers

  • Transportation! How People Get AroundA quick, illustrated overview of the different modes of transportation, plus different kinds of each!
  • Transportation in my Neighborhood A photo book of kids and their relatives using different methods of transportation to get around.
  • How do Airplanes Stay Up Even I learned a lot in this book! It talks about the 4 forces that affect flight and how planes are designed to work with, or against, those forces…using easy terms.
  • Peter’s Bus Ride – a fun photo book about safety on buses.

Our Favorite Preschool Books About Trains

  • What’s Inside – Trains A look at what trains are made of and what makes them go.
  • Machines with Power – Trains This book is a simple read, with direct info and great pictures about trains.
  • Passenger Trains – cars, locomotives, engineers…this book very simply explains what is involved on a train ride!
  • Pete the Cat’s Train Trip Your preschooler may be able to help with a couple words in the “I can Read!” book. The famous Pete the Cat is heading to Grandma’s. When the conductor hears that he loves trains, he offers to show him around!

Preschool Books about Boats

  • Goat in a Boat – not so much about boats as it is about rhyming, this Usborne book is colorful and fun.
  • Boats on the Bay – A beautifully illustrated story book about the different types of boats there are, and how at the end of the day, they are come into the bay.

My Top 3 picks would be Transportation! How People Get Around, Pete the Cat’s Train Trip (because my daughter loves this book all year long), and Boats on the Bay.

Video About Transportation for Preschoolers

We don’t always watch something in preschool, but the movie All About Fire Engines, Trucks, Airplanes, & Fast Trains was pretty fun. It may be a little dated (does Continental Airlines even exist anymore?!), but is a really cute way of learning more about transportation. For example, in the Airplane episode, Backpack Jack takes some kids to the airport and goes through the process of getting on a plane. Then you get to go in the cockpit while the pilot explains what different controls do.

Transportation Sensory Bin

This bin was simple to make and fun to play with. To make it, you’ll need:

  • colored paper (preferably black, light blue, and dark blue)
  • cotton balls
  • yellow crayon
  • shallow container
  • Transportation toys for inside (we use these transportation counters)
Preschool transportation theme sensory bin

To make it, cut the paper so that each color covers 1/3 of the bottom of your sensory bin. I did light blue, black, then dark blue to make sky, road, sea. Tape each piece down.

Use a yellow crayon to make dotted lines on the black/road.

Fill the shallow container with about a quarter- to a half-inch of water. Set on top of the dark blue paper.

Get a large handful of cotton balls and spread them on the light blue paper. These are the clouds for the airplanes!

Now just set some fun airplanes, boats, cars, trains, etc. into the bin and join your child in play!

Transportation Science for Preschoolers

One thing that is always fun with preschoolers is playing with water. This science activity explores why boats float and determines what kinds of things float and what things don’t.

For this science experiment, you’ll need a big, shallow bin (we used our sensory bin). Fill it up just over halfway so there is plenty of depth to determine if something is floating or not. Then find some random objects that are safe in water and have your preschooler guess if they will float or not. Drop them in and see what happens!

Some ideas are:

  • A wooden block
  • an empty plastic cup
  • a plastic cup with an inch or two of oil inside (careful, it might spill, so hold it gently and bring it back out once you’ve decided)
  • a plastic cup filled with water. Fill it full, then fill it only halfway. Then only fill 1/2 inch. What happened to the way the cup floats?
  • A plastic cup filled with anything, really. We used macaroni noodles to fill one
  • a pear or apple
  • a tomato
  • a crayon
Preschool transportation theme science experiment, testing out what floats

Talk about each object after you drop it in. Did it float? Why do you think it did (or didn’t)?

Objects have different densities, but for preschool purposes, I just explain that some things have more air in them. Some things are just made of materials that are lighter than water, so they float. But if the material inside is thick and heavier than water, it will sink.

Boats are made in a way so that the material ends up being lighter and less “thick” (dense) than water, which allows them to float!

Transportation Math Activities for Preschoolers

Transportation Sorting

We used the sensory bin above with the transportation counters. Since the bin already has land, sea, and sky, I had my daughter use the counters to sort which mode of transportation went where. The counters come with airplanes, fire trucks, trains, cars, boats, and buses. The road got a bit crowded, but she had fun figuring out what went where.

Airplane Contest

For this, you’ll need a tape measure and a few different kinds of paper airplanes. I used the book Origami Airplanes (best in Kindle for a good price) to make a couple different types of airplanes / flyers. The book actually had really good directions and illustrations so you knew where to fold. And, these are way cooler than the typical 3-fold airplane I usually make. Also allow your preschooler to make their own airplane however they’d like. Mine got crafty with the scissors and markers to make hers look extra cool.

Preschool transportation theme activity, making different styles of paper airplanes

Once you have a few different airplanes, pull the tape measure out and lock it in place on the floor. Then have your child throw each airplane, one at a time. Have them decide which one went the furthest. Give a brief explanation of a tape measure, and have them decide how many feet each plane went (to the nearest foot). Which one went the farthest? Why do you think that one won? Which one didn’t go very far? Why?

In the book listed above, How Do Airplanes Stay Up, it talks about how the design of the airplane affects its flight. Perhaps the wings on one of your airplanes were made in a way that allowed it to stay in flight longer.

Preschool transportation theme activity, making different styles of paper airplanes
Preschool transportation theme activity, flying multiple paper airplanes with a measuring tape seeing which went the furthest

The airplanes go everywhere. We scooted them in for the sake of measuring and for the sake of getting them all in the picture.

Airplane and Car Counting

Get a piece of paper and make draw a line down the middle. The first column should say “Cars” and the second “Airplanes.” Head outside, and every time you see a car, make a mark on the paper in the “car” column. Every time you see an airplane, make a mark in the “airplane” column.

Stay out as long or short as you’d like. Then come back inside and count up how many of each mode of transportation you saw.

Use the transportation counters to physically put the number of cars/planes on your paper.

Looking for more preschool ideas? Check out:

Brown Bear Brown Bear Activities

All About Apples for Preschool

Dinosaur Week in Preschool!

Fun Activities for Transportation Theme

Make a Mini Tunnel to Transport Through

My daughter loved being able to make a tunnel, and then ride different things through it! We just used kitchen chairs and a couple large blankets to make a tunnel. It helps if you drape blankets down the inside of the tunnel as well as overhead. Then bring over anything you’ve got that your preschooler can safely ride. Ideas include their bike, a balance bike, a toddler sit-and-ride toy. Explain what tunnels are used for (cutting through mountains, going underground, etc.)

Preschool transportation theme little girl riding a balance bike through a blanket tunnel

Build a Train Out of Building Blocks

We have a Duplo Train Track set that we used, but whatever train set you have works. You can even just use blocks to build a flat track if that’s what you have! Have your toddler make a long track, and use the trains to drive on them. Add whatever props you have to make a little city. Perhaps people are on that train going to work, or going to school, going to see a movie or going to the park. This is great play time where kids can use their creativity and imagination.

Preschool transportation theme activity, little girl driving a lego train through a tunnel

My daughter decided to put her train through our mini tunnel. It wasn’t so mini with that tiny train in there, but she enjoyed it.

If you don’t have Duplo trains (or something similar), these are great gifts for birthdays or holidays. My daughter plays with hers ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, as I write this post she is sitting playing with her trains.

Build a Floating Sailboat

This little craft is super quick and easy. But playing afterwards lasts a lot longer! To build this little sailboat, you’ll need a sponge, a toothpick, a piece of paper, scissors, and a piece of tape.

Preschool transportation theme activity, a sponge boat in the water

Cut a small triangle out of the paper.

Tape it to the top of a toothpick.

Stick the toothpick on the sponge, off centered.

Now you can put your boat in a bucket of water and watch it float! My daughter liked to sail it around the “sea”.

Fun Transportation Theme Snacks for Preschool

My daughter is creative, but this is where I had to get creative. Here are a couple snacks in the transportation theme that are easy to make and even a bit healthy.

Preschool transportation theme snack, a car made out of a roll

The Roll Car

For the Roll Car, use one Hawaiian Roll (car), half of a string cheese (driver), two mini chocolate chips (drivers eyes), 4 sliced cucumbers (wheels), and a slice of banana (steering wheel). I connected the steering wheel and wheels with toothpicks. For the driver, make a small hole in the bread and then push the cheese in.

Preschool transportation theme snack, a bicycle made of bagels, carrots and cucumber

The Veggie Bicycle

This bicycle has a lot of options for making. Basically you need some straight pieces of vegetables and two large round foods for wheels. I used cucumber for the handlebars, carrots for the body of the bike, two small Chocolate Chex cereal for the seat, and a mini bagel sliced in half for the wheels.

You could also use pineapple rings for the wheels, zucchini sticks for the body of the bike, or a soft marshmallow for a comfy seat.

Transportation Theme for Preschool

Which were your favorite preschool books about transportation? Which fun transportation activity did your preschooler like best? Let me know in the comments!

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Preschool transportation theme pin