Duration of activity
These activities can take just a few minutes or keep your child busy periodically throughout the day.
- Transport picture and/or word flashcards.
- Laminating pouches and laminator (optional but laminating will extend the life of the flashcards).
- Some activities require additional materials. They are specified in the individual activites.
Printing the flashcards will cost about $1 if you have your own printer. If you choose to laminate the flashcards the cost will be approximately $2 if you have your own laminator.
- Print, cut and laminate (optional) the flashcards.
What to do
Naming forms of transport (2-5 years)
- You’ll need a set of transport picture flashcards for this activity.
- Tell your child that you are going to play a game about different forms of transport. If they are not already familiar with it, discuss the word transport and its meaning.
- Ask your child to name some of the different forms of transport that they know of. If they have trouble help them by asking more specific questions, for example the different ways children travel to school or mums and dads travel to work or astronauts travel to outer space.
- Now tell your child that the flashcards contain pictures of many different forms of transport. Tell them that as you show them the picture, they should tell you the name of the form of transport.
- Show your child the first picture and wait for their answer. If they have trouble naming the picture, help them out. Some forms of transport, for example a submarine, might be new for your child- you may need to tell them the names of some of the transport pictures.
- When they have named the picture, talk about the form of transport. For example you could talk about the people that travel using that transport, the way the transport moves (e.g. wheels or wings) and what your child thinks about that (e.g. whether or not they like using that form of transport and why).
- Repeat for each of the picture flashcards.
Matching transport words and pictures (3-8 years)
- Place all the transport picture flashcards on the floor or another flat surface that is low enough for your child to work at. For younger children use just a few of the flashcards and choose the common forms of transport with short, easy to read names (e.g. car and bus).
- Show your child the transport words flashcards and explain to your child that to play this game they need to match the transport pictures to the corresponding transport words.
- Give your child the transport name flashcards and ask them to choose the first one they would like to match.
- Ask them to read the word to you. For younger children who are just starting to recognise letters and their sounds, help them by pointing to the letters and sounding them out with your child. For transport words which have uncommon letter sounds or combinations (e.g. the ae in aeroplane or the first c in bicycle) discuss how letters sound different, depending on the other letters they are combined with.
- When your child has read the word, ask them to find the matching picture and place the word next to the picture. Help them out if they get stuck.
- Repeat until your child has matched all the transport pictures and words.
Memory matching picture game
- For older children play this game matching the transport word and picture flashcards. For younger children who cannot yet read very well, play with two sets of transport picture flashcards.
- Lay the flashcards out on a flat surface with the pictures and words facing down so that your child cannot see them.
- Explain to your child that the aim of the game is to find two matching cards, but they can only turn two cards over at a time. If they turn over cards that don’t match they must turn them back and try to remember the pictures and their position, so that they can come back and match them later.
- Ask your child to begin the game by turning over a card. Talk about the form of transport that is pictured/written on the flashcard.
- Now ask your child to turn over a second card to see if they match. Talk about the second card they have turned over.
- If the cards match, remove them to one side. If they do not match, turn them back over so they can’t be seen. To help your child remember the position, ask them what the picture/word is immediately after you have turned the card back so the picture is facing down.
- Continue turning over two cards at a time until your child has matched all the cards. As your child turns over the first card and names the form of transport, ask them something like, “Have you seen another aeroplane yet? Do you remember where it is?”
Matching transport flashcards with toys and pictures (2-4 years)
- To prepare for this game, collect as many forms of transport toys, books and pictures from your child’s toy box as possible.
- Place the transport image flashcards for which you have matching toys and/or pictures on the ground facing up. You may want to put the matching transport word cards next to them so your child gets used to seeing the words.
- Explain to your child that this game involves putting the matching toys/page of the book or pictures next to the correct transport flashcard.
- Ask them to tell you what form of transport is on the first flashcard. If you are using the word flashcards, ask your child to read the word- even if they are still too young, they’ll be able to guess what it says and pretend to read it as they follow the letters with their fingers. Pretending to read is fun and rewarding for children and also an important early literacy milestone.
- Next ask them to take the matching toy and place it next to the flashcard.
- Repeat until all the toys and flashcards have been matched.
- You will need a set of transport flashcards and the tally worksheet for this activity.
- This game is great to play in the afternoon; your child will have had the whole day to spot different types of transport. Playing it every day for a week (or on several days over a period of time if you can’t fit it into your schedule every day) and comparing answers for different days is also fun. In the school holidays or weekends, you could combine this game with an outing to see a new form of transport, for example a walk past a local construction site to see earth moving machines or some fun at the local ice skating or roller skating rink.
- Give your child a copy of the transport tally sheet and explain to them that they need to record on it how many times today they saw the different forms of transport as you show them the flashcards.
- Ask them to write their name and the day at the top of the worksheet
- Show them the first flashcard and ask your child what form of transport it is and whether or not they saw it today.
- If your child saw the form of transport, ask them to tell you about where they saw it and what it was doing. For example was it moving or parked, turning a corner or going straight ahead, transporting people or something else.
- Next ask them how many times they saw the form of transport today. If they saw it several times, ask them to tell you about the different times they saw it.
- Ask your child to identify the column of the worksheet in which that form of transport is pictured/written. If the form of transport is not picture, ask your child to write the name and/or draw a picture of the form of transport in one of the blank rows (only the common forms of transport are listed).
- When your child has identified the correct row, ask them to write a tally mark for each time they saw that form of transport.
Older children aged 7-8 may enjoy creating more complex tables (e.g. having columns for transport they saw and transport they travelled in). They will also be able to create charts and graphs to represent the information in the table graphically. See the example table.
Transport sorting and counting game
- Place all the transport pictures on a flat surface facing up or give them to your child in a pile.
- Explain to your child that to play this game they must sort the different transport pictures into groups.
- Choose categories into which your child will sort the forms of transport, for example:
- Those that move on the ground, in the air or in water;
- Those that have wheels, wings, or other moving parts;
- Those beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet;
- Those with a certain number of wheels;
- Any other category you would like.
- Or let your child decide how to categorise the forms of transport. Be sure to ask them how they are sorting the transport pictures so that you understand what they are trying to do and how to help them if they get stuck. Children may think of categories that their parents do not, so it may appear that they are sorting the flashcards incorrectly if you don’t understanding their sorting system.
Transport role play
- This activity involves your child make believing they are using and/or operating different forms of transport. It is a fun game to play with a group of children who can each act out different roles. If you have a dress up box it’s also fun to use costumes and/or props as you play. For example, you could use pretend money to pay to get on public transport or wear a uniform or a hard hat.
- Take a flashcard and ask your child to name the form of transport pictured.
- Next ask them to pretend they are using or operating the transport. For example for the bus picture, they may decide to pretend that they are a passenger getting on the bus and paying their fare to the driver, or they may like to be the driver, steering the bus and stopping it to let passengers on.
- You and/or other children may like to join the role play, for example if they are pretending to be the operator of a crane, you and the other children might make believe you are construction workers attaching something heavy to the crane, or yelling instructions to the operator (or perhaps using a whistle or signs to give the instructions).
- When you have finished talk about the types of people who use the form of transport and some of the important things it does for people.
Make believe transport charades with flashcards
- This is a fun game to play with a group of children.
- Place or hang the flashcards somewhere they are easily seen.
- Explain to the children that to play this game one child has to pretend to be one of the forms of transport pictured on the flashcards (e.g. a bus) while the others guess which form of transport they are pretending to be.
- Ask one child to be the first to make believe. Ask the other children to watch and try to guess what form of transport the child is pretending to be. Tell them that the one who guesses correctly which form of transport their friend is pretending to be will get up to be the actor next.
- As the children guess, the child who is acting must tell them if their answer is correct or not.
- When one child guesses correctly the make believe finishes and that child gets up to pretend they are a different form of transport.
- Give your child positive feedback to encourage them as they go along. But ensure the feedback is meaningful and your child knows exactly what you are complimenting them for. For example instead of saying, “Good job,” say something more specific like, “You tried really hard to read the word aeroplane. Well done!”
- Talk about the similarities and differences between the different forms of transport, for example:
- Some are for transporting people (e.g. a bus) while others are for transporting goods (e.g. a truck) or natural materials (e.g. a bulldozer) and others may transport both (e.g. a train).
- Some are powered by engines while others are powered by people or pulled by animals.
- Many forms of transport have wheels but some do not.
- Talk about the transport pictures and how they compare to real forms of transport. For example are they bigger or smaller, the same or different colours.
- Help your child learn about maths as you play with the transport flashcards, for example:
- Count the number of windows and/or wheels on each form of transport. For younger children use number flashcards to help them become familiar with the numerals.
- Discuss the shape of the different forms of transport and their parts like windows, seats and doors. You could also use a set of shape flashcards so that children learn the spelling of the words for shapes.
- Talk about the size of different forms of transport in real words and use a variety of words to describe the relative size of different forms of transport (e.g. big, bigger, biggest, enormous, huge).
- For older children it may be fun to use a ruler to measure the size of each form of transport, or parts like the windows.
- As you read the transport words in these games, discuss the letters and sounds of the words. For example you could talk about other words that begin with the same letter or words that rhyme with that transport word.
- For older children, discuss the different parts of the transport words, for example how sometimes parts of words like the suffix and prefix have particular meanings and how some words are actually two words joined together (referred to as compound words). For example you could talk about:
- The prefix sub in submarine means under and the main word marine refers to the ocean, so when these are combines the words means under the ocean. The prefix occurs in other words like subzero (below zero, usually used to refer to a temperature) and subcutaneous (under the skin).
- The prefix bi in bicycle refers to two and is also found in words like biannual (occurring every two years) and bifocals (glasses with two lenses). The prefix uni in unicycle refers to one and can also be found in words like unicorn and universe. In tricycle it refers to three as in triangle and trimester. In each word the prefix is attached to the word cycle which refers to something round, in this case the wheel.
- How roller-skates, ice-skates and skateboards are both compound words which combine the word skate with another word.
- Discuss prefixes like ing (added to a verb to indicate active present tense as in walking) and er (added to a noun to indicate that it is a thing which does something, as a grader grades and a scooter scoots).
Playing with transport flashcards offers many opportunities for children to develop their mathematical understanding, including concepts like sorting and tallying and abilities like counting and recognising numbers. What they’ll already know and learn depends on their age and ability. Two and three year olds are usually able to:
- Recognise quantities of two or three, for example identify that an aeroplane has two wings and a tricycle has three wheels.
- Count by rote, meaning that they can count, for example from 1-10 because they have heard the counting sequence, but don’t necessarily understand that they numbers they are saying refer to particular quantities.
- Associate small quantities, numbers and numeral, for example they might recognise the number three and place it next to a pile of three transport pictures they have sorted into a group.
- Understand basic words to describe size, for example big and small and be able to use them appropriately, for example to describe a train as big and a scooter as small. At this age they will begin to use a greater variety of words to describe size and quantity, for example they may use words like many or a lot to describe quantity or short and tall to describe size.
- Sort objects based on a single classification, for example all the forms of transport that are big or all the forms of transport that have wheels.
- Recognise simple shapes (squares, triangles, rectangles and circles) in the transport picutres.
- Use words to describe the position of objects on the page like above and below.
Four and five year olds can typically:
- Count a group of five objects, and as they develop, accurately count a group of ten and later 20 or more objects.
- Use appropriate words to describe different quantities in relation to each other, for example describe one group as bigger than another.
- Compare objects for similarities and differences in terms of size, colour and shape.
- Sort objects correctly based on multiple characteristics, for example be able to put all the objects that are big and have wheels in a pile and all those that are small and have wheels in another pile.
- Be able to describe patterns using appropriate mathematical vocabulary to explain how features of the pattern are related to each other, for example recognising that the wheels are always under the body of a form of transport.
- Recognise common two and three dimensional shapes, know their names and be able to classify pictures based on the shape/s they contain. For example your child may be able to tell you that a rocket ship is cone shaped and the tray of a tip truck is a rectangular prism (which they may simply refer to as a box).
- Explain the reasons they have classified objects in a group, for example by saying, “I put these together because they all move in water.”
- Organise information into simple graphs, such as the table used to record how many times they saw different forms of transport in a day.
Most six and seven year olds can:
- Perform simple addition and subtraction. For example they may be able to add the number of flashcards in two groups together or subtract the number of flashcards in a smaller group from the number in a larger group.
- Order objects (for example pictures or words on the flashcard), for example from smallest to biggest or shortest to longest.
- Use a standard unit of measurement (e.g. the length of a piece of string) to compare the size of objects and compare them, for example by saying that the picture of the rocket ship is taller than the string and the train is longer than the piece of string.
- Use tables and graphs to display information, for example by creating a table showing how many times they saw each form of transport today.
- Perform simple multiplication, for example by finding all the forms of transport that have two wheels and multiplying two by the number of flashcards.
Eight year olds should be able to:
- Identify groups of flashcards with an odd or even quantity.
- Recognise pictures which have a symmetrical shape (are the same on both sides when divided down the middle) and those which are not symmetrical.
- Interpret the information displayed in tables, for example look at the tables showing how many times they saw a form of transport on each day of the week and say, for example, “I saw more cars on Mondays than on any other day of the week.”
- Use a ruler to measure the size of pictures in centimetres.
Fine motor skills
Picking up small, fiddly objects like flashcards or small toys requires children to use their fingers. As they use them, they’ll also be developing strength and control of their finger muscles and improving their fine motor skills.Activities that require writing like the transport hunt and tally will provide an opportunity to practice writing, a fundamental skill for children to develop which relies heavily on fine motor skills.
Communication and social skills
Like all activities you do with your children, playing with transport flashcards is a great way to help them learn communication and social skills, because they’ll be communicating and socialising with you as they play. Two year olds will be learning the basic rules of conversation, for example that they should listen and follow instructions. They’ll progress from understanding simple instructions with just one or two steps (e.g. pick up the flashcard and tell me what the picture is) to more complex instructions (e.g. take the flashcard, identify features such as wheels and sort it into a pile). Three and four year olds will also demonstrate their increasing knowledge of language by communicating with more complex words, using non-verbal forms of communication like facial expressions and hand gestures and expanding on ideas you put forward. Older children will use increasingly complex forms of communication, for example a range of different gestures and facial expressions to add meaning to what they are saying. They’ll be well versed in conversational techniques like turn taking and active listening.
Language and literacy skills
As they name and describe forms of transport, children will also be developing their language and literacy skills. Toddlers and pre-schoolers will benefit from learning new words and practicing combining words to make meaningful sentences. They’ll also be developing an understanding that printed text has meaning and learning to read as they look at the transport word flashcards. Even children who are too young to recognise letters or read will benefit from looking at the word flashcards and hearing you read them. For example they’ll see you reading from left to right as you move your finger between letters of the word when reading. They’ll have an opportunity to connect the letter symbols to sounds they hear from your mouth as you read. Older children who already recognise letters or can read will have an opportunity to practice and develop their reading skills. By the beginning of primary school most children understand that spoken words can be written down, recognise the letters of the alphabet and read words with familiar sounds. They should be able to read most of the transport name flashcards and learn those that they don’t already know quite quickly. As they progress through grades one and two they’ll begin writing with increasing ease and may enjoy, for example writing labels for the groups they have classified forms of transport into. By about the end of grade two most kids will be able to identify parts of words like prefixes and suffixes and understand how some common ones (e.g. the bi- in bicycle) change the meaning of words. They’ll also be beginning to understand compound words, read words with unfamiliar letter sounds and understanding grammar terms like nouns and verbs. If you use the multilingual transport word flashcards you’ll also be helping your child learn a second language.
Pick and choose which printables you want – if you want the child to match the transport object with the word themselves, pick the separate picture only and separate transport names only flashcard options.
Download the picture only transport objects flashcards:
Download the transport names only flashcards in:
Download the transport objects and names flashcards in:
Download the tally worksheet
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- Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. Australian Curriculum- Mathematics. Undated. (cited 2 October 2013). Available from: (URL Link)
- Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. Australian Curriculum- English. Undated. (cited 2 October 2013). Available from: (URL Link)
- Owens A. Supporting children’s development- fine motor skills. Putting Children First. Issue 28. 2008. National Childcare Accreditation Council. (Full Text)