Fascination With Transportation

Ages 2-5

Why I Created This Kit:

Curator Rebekah K.

Curator Rebekah K.

Fascination with cars, trucks, and airplanes begins pretty early, at least mine did. Remember the Fisher-Price vehicles? Someone gave me the Fisher-Price ambulance when I was three. I cherished that little piece of plastic. A few years later, while digging in my back yard, I found some other child’s long-lost treasure, a Matchbox Ford. I still have that little car; but, today, I enjoy some bigger, older cars. I am still enamored with every vehicle I have ever seen at a car show or at the Henry Ford Museum.  Last fall, my father-in-law and I took his 1928 Buick, originally purchased by the famed race car driver Barney Oldfield, to a car museum where Oldfield’s nephew was giving a multi-media presentation about Barney Oldfield. In the 4th of July parade, we ride in a gorgeous, red Franklin. Weekends often find our family riding in a vintage car. I am fascinated by transportation of all kinds, especially vintage cars. Which vehicles do you and your child enjoy?

Suggested Books

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1. Let’s Go For a Drive by Mo Willems (Ages 4-6)

  • Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.
  • Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In Let's Go for a Drive!, Gerald and Piggie want to hit the road! But the best-laid plans of pigs and elephants often go awry. (Amazon)

Go, Dog. Go!  By P.D. Eastman (Ages 3-5)

  • Big dogs. Little dogs. Red, blue, green dogs. Dogs of every shape, size, and color are 'on the go' in P.D. Eastman's classic Beginner Book. From sunup to sundown, these dogs work and play the whole day through and in every place imaginable. Up and down, in and out, round and round--they race, they climb, they party, too! (Amazon

The Village Garage by G. Brian Karas (Ages 2-5)

  • Through the year and no matter the weather, workers at the Village Garage are always busy. With the help of their trusty trucks, they clean the streets of sticks and leaves in the spring; patch potholes in preparation for summer traffic; pick up the leaves in the fall; and spray the roads with sand and salt during winter. Young truck enthusiasts will love watching the garage workers operate their terrific trucks and keep the roads in top shape through every season! (Amazon)

Machines Go To Work by William Low (Ages 2-6)

  • Toddlers love machines and things that go, and this book gives them everything they want, from a cement mixer to a helicopter to a backhoe. Six interactive gatefolds extend the original pictures to three pages, revealing something new about each situation. The final double gatefold opens into a very long train and shows all the machines at work!
  • The last spread provides additional information about each machine for young readers to pore over again and again.
  • William Low’s classically trained artist’s eye adds a new layer to this genre—both parents and children will appreciate the beautiful illustrations, the attention to detail, and the clever situational twists revealed by lifting the flaps. (Amazon) 

Line 135 by Germano Zullo (Ages 4-6)

  • Journeys can be life-changing, whether they are literal—traveling from one place to another—or personal, like the quest for self-discovery. This meditative picture book explores both, following a young child on a train ride from the city to the country. As the landscape transforms from a bustling city to a richly imaginative world in this distinctively formatted book, the child's sense of wonder and independence flourishes, as does a deep engagement with life and the possibilities that lie ahead—making Line 135 a quietly eloquent gift for anyone embarking on their life's journey. Plus, this is the fixed format version, which looks nearly identical to the print edition. (Amazon)

Amelia & Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan (Ages 4-8)

  • An inspiring true story of Amelia Earheart and Eleanor Roosevelt -- and a thrilling night when they made history together!On a brisk and cloudless evening in April 1933, Amelia Earheart and Eleanor Roosevelt did the unprecedented: They stole away from a White House dinner, commandeered an Eastern Air Transport plane and took off on a glorious adventure -- while still dressed in their glamorous evening gowns!This large-format lavishly produced picture book celebrates the courage and pioneering spirit of two friends who defied convention in the name of fulfillment, conviction, and fun. Breathtaking black and white drawings -- which create the look of a vintage movie -- make this a visual tour de force for young adventurers, historians and any one else who dares to dream. (Lexile)

Suggested Apps

Backseat A-B-See (Ages 2-5) 

  • Formats: Google Play ($8.79 with free sample available) and iTunes ($7.99)
  • From the author of Flight 1-2-3 Vroom! Vroom! From the backseat, what do you see? Whether on a cross-country road trip or a quick jaunt across town, there’s no end to what a child can see from the backseat of a car. Using familiar road signs, this striking book introduces little ones not just to the alphabet but also to the world around them. Equally perfect for transportation-obsessed children and those just learning to read, this fresh and dynamic picture book will entertain and educate at home, in the classroom, and on the go.

Flight 1-2-3 (Ages 2-5)

  • Formats: Google Play ($8.99 with free sample available) and iTunes ($7.99)
  • What can you see when you go on an airplane journey? 1 airplane, 2 luggage carts, 3 check-in counters, and so much more! Using familiar airport signs, this striking book introduces little ones not only to numbers, but to the world around them. Equally suitable for the transportation-obsessed as well as any child learning to count, this fresh and dynamic picture book follow-up to Backseat A-B-See will entertain and education at home and on the go.

Monster Truck Toddler Games (Ages 3-5)

  • Format: Google Play
  • Crunch! Slam! Crash! Do you have a little driver who loves the crushing and slamming of monster trucks? Then get ready to start your engines for some true monster truck fun with the Monster Truck Toddler Games. Let your little racer have an awesome time looking at pictures of cool monster trucks in different racing scenes in this toddler friendly kid’s monster truck rally game.  (Google Play)
  • Created for toddlers, this is an easy to use app that challenges your child to find differences.

Transportation Toddler (Ages 2-5)

  • Format: Apple iOS (iOS 4.3 or later for $0.99) and Android (Android 2.2 & up for $0.99)
  • With a focus on simplicity and full voice overs, toddlers play and learn without the need for extra help. The app displays colorful quizzes, flashcards, toy box and puzzle games while offering positive reinforcement and fun rewards. The child-safe menu allows parents to customize game play and difficulty. (iTunes)
  • Using this app to build vocabulary:
    • Use the flashcard mode to learn new words. Plan to use your new words in daily conversation by playing "I Spy" as you explore your neighborhood or take a ride in the car. For example, as you get in the car you might say, "Let's play 'I Spy' today. What are our new words? That's right, our new words are truck and tricycle. Today, let's look for trucks and tricycles on our ride. When you see a truck, make sure you call out, "I Spy a truck." You can extend "I Spy" by asking them to identify the color by asking, "What color was the truck you saw?" and reinforcing their accomplishment, "Yeah! You spied a green truck!" 

Interesting Information to Know

Who built the first car?

  • Even though a few people had built vehicles in the 1700’s and early 1800’s, Carl Benz of Germany is credited with building the first modern automobile in 1886. 

Who was the first woman to take a road trip?

  • Bertha Benz, the wife of the man who built the first modern automobile, travelled over 60 miles from home and returned the next day. When Bertha got home, she told her husband how to improve his automobile. 

What makes a car run?

  • Check out this video about how the inside of a cars engine works.

How many cars are there?

  • It is difficult to estimate how many cars there are; but, some have estimated the total number of cars at over 1 billion. One billion is 1,000,000,000. How much is one billion? There are one billion seconds in 31 years. There are just over one billion minutes in 1,903 years. 

How fast do trains go?

  • The speed of a train depends on the type of train and where it is traveling. Trains slow down when they travel through towns. Freight trains are slow. Freight trains carry anything we want moved from one place to another and usually travel at 49 mph. Sometimes freight trains travel as slow as 10 mph. Passengers trains, the trains we ride in, travel at about the same speed as cars on the highway at about 60 mph. The fastest trains, like high-speed trains and bullet trains, can travel over 350 mph.

How high do planes fly?

  • When we ride in an airplane, we fly 7 ½  to 8 ½ miles up in the sky. This is because higher than this, the air is too thin to hold the planes up. (Source: NASA)

Discussion Starters

When you get in the car, talk about where you are going and how to get there.  Ask your child to imagine all of the different ways you could get there. If s/he is having a hard time thinking of ways to take your trip, other than by car, start asking about other ways you could travel.  

  • For example, you could ask, “We’re going to the library. Could we get there in a train?”  Reinforce the reason you could or could not get there on the train. For example, “We couldn’t get to the library on the train, because the train doesn’t stop near the library.” Or, “We could take the subway to get to the library, because there is a stop 2 blocks away.”

Discuss how people traveled before modern transportation and the modes of transportation that have been invented.  Show your child pictures of different types of transportation and see if you can figure out together when people first used those vehicles for transportation. Here’s a timeline to help you out.


1) Vehicle Shapes Activity

Supplies Needed: 

  • Scissors
  • Recycled Paper, construction paper, or felt


  1. Cut 5 or more small, medium, and large of each of the following basic geometric shapes: triangles, squares, circles, rectangles.
  2. If your child is working on his / her scissor skills, trace shapes onto the paper and supervise cutting.
  3. Once your shapes have been created, use them to create cars, boats, planes, bikes, etc. How many different vehicles can you make together?

(Adapted from Shape Vehicles by Andrea Mulder-Slater at KinderArt.com)


2) Painting with Cars

I thought this mess-free painting was the work of a genius: all the fun without having to wash paint out of anyone’s ears, or noses, or hair, or …

Cost: a few dollars for things you don’t have on hand


  • A large sheet of paper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tape 


  1. Have the children scoop finger paint onto their paper.
  2. Place a large piece of plastic wrap over the entire paper.
  3. Tape all the edges of the plastic wrap to the paper, making sure to carefully seal every edge.
  4. Use fingers, cars, trucks, and anything else you can think of to create paintings.
  5. Once your little one is finished painting, simply remove the tape, and discard the plastic wrap.  You will be left with a beautiful masterpiece.

For another take on painting with cars, try painting with cars on a Slide found here.


3) Family Activity

Gather your family to make and race boats made out of recycled materials. Here are directions for one simple boat. What other materials can you find and re-use? Be sure you and your child discard of any no longer needed projects rather than leaving them to pollute the water.

Cost: minimal, if using recycled materials

To make your own boats you will need:

  • The lid of an egg carton
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch or sharp pencil
  • Straw or stick
  • Paints and paintbrush or markers
  • Tape


  1. Cut a triangle from the construction paper. 
  2. Punch two or three holes along one length of it. 
  3. Weave the straw or stick through the holes in the paper triangle. 
  4. Paint the inside of the egg carton lid. 
  5. Tape your sail to one end of the boat. 
  6. Put your boats in a wading pool and race them across to see who wins. Do you have to blow on your boat’s sails? Do you need to splash in the water to create waves to get your boat to move? Have fun!

(Source: Create Kids Crafts)


4) Transportation Changes

Did you know that the way we get from one place to another place has changed a lot since the 1800s? People used to have a horse pull their wagon or carriage. Now, we drive cars. People used to take a ship to cross an ocean. Now, we take an airplane. Explore this combination memory game and interactive timeline from the Smithsonian Institute. Younger children will enjoy the matching memory-style game. After the matching game, read the hints out loud to your child and help him / her match the vehicle to its destination and make a timeline of the vehicles you learned about.

Some of the great photos include New York City's traffic towers that pre-date traffic lights and a school bus from the 1940s.

Parents will enjoy exploring Smithsonian's "America on the Move" website to learn more about changes in transportation from the 1870s to today's global community.


Try this cute little sing-song rhyme to help reinforce counting with your child:

Lonely Bus Driver 

 One lonely bus driver all alone and blue 
 He picked up a passenger and then there were two. 
 Two people riding, they stopped by a tree 
 They picked up a passenger, and then there were three. 
 Three people riding, they stopped by a store 
 They picked up a passenger, and then there were four. 
 Four people riding, happy and alive,  
 They picked up a passenger, and then there were five. 
 Five people riding open swung the door 
 Four passengers got off the bus,  
 The driver's alone once more.

(Source: Year-Round Early Childhood Themes, eBook: 12 Fun Theme-Based Activity Units

 By Kim Cernek)


Just in case “The Wheels on the Bus” has been sung about 9 dozen times at your house today and you need something new.

We All Go Traveling By – by Fred Penner

  • This is a fun, song with repetitive text as each mode of transportation is added in a new verse. I like that light music is fun to sing along with and this youtube version includes the lyrics.

Cars & Trucks- by Chris Wiser and Rob Martin

  • You and your child will enjoy the animation added to the song “Cars & Trucks” from the CD “Funky, Fresh, and Sugar Free.” The music definitely is funky. I like that we get to hear the actual sounds of jets, boats, and cars in this recording.


How Buses are Made

  • Do you take the city bus? Watch this video to see how busses are made. I like that the narrator’s voice is easy to hear and this video gives some interesting information so children can understand the process of building a bus. 

How Airplanes are Made

  • Near airports, you and your child can watch small planes taking off and landing. This video shows the building process of small aircraft. I like the explanations of what different materials are used for and which steps are taken in making small airplanes.

About Rebekah

An insomniac since 1979, Rebekah has filled her nights with books & history. Rebekah's earliest memories are of watching documentaries, reading books, and playing Candy Land late at night with her dad. Is it any wonder that she doesn't consider being a librarian and teacher a job? During her fifteen years, in college and K-12 libraries and 10 years in English, ESL, and History classrooms, she has spent her days talking about books and history, sometimes at the same time. Rebekah says, "I love pairing readers with books that are a perfect fit. I feel like I have won a war when a reluctant reader returns to tell me they hated reading; but, after reading a book I recommended, they stay up with a flashlight to read until the page is blurry."