This tip is a selection of vocabulary building activities based on the subject of transport. I have included several common types of transport as well as touching on some less common ones that might interest your learners such as hovercrafts and horses.


  • To provide cross curricula links through science experiments
  • To use real situations and language to show pupils of the relevance of learning English
  • Language: shapes, colours, prepositions of place, instructions, asking questions including How do you come to school? and How long does it take?. Bus vocabulary; wipers, conductor, fares. Plane related vocabulary such as; bags, passport, boarding pass, tickets
  • To introduce asking polite questions; May I have…?
  • To encourage children to think up their own lyrics in English to a popular English song.



  • Kitchen rolls
  • Template of Double Decker bus
  • Velcro
  • Balloons
  • Plastic plates
  • Putty (silly putty or blutack will do)
  • Film cases
  • Pencils
  • Pens

General Transport

  • How do you come to school?
    • Carry out a class survey of how everyone comes to school. Make a poster size table with a column per vehicle and at the top of each column either sick a flashcard or ask volunteers to draw one each of separate squares of paper and to then stick onto the poster.
    • Drill the questions ‘How do you come to school?’ and ‘How long does it take?’ with the whole class before asking them to mill around and gather information from their classmates. Before entering the date into the poster survey you could draw a rough copy of the chart onto the board and ask a volunteer or two to enter in the collated data with the help of their classmates.
  • Traffic lights game
    • Using half of an A4 sheet of paper your pupils can make their own simplified traffic lights.
    • On one side they draw a large red circle and on the other a red.
    • They can take it in turn to use their traffic lights to lead and control what their classmates do.
    • One person can hold their traffic lights and call out the name of a form of transport such as bus. The others have to move around the classroom miming, with sounds, a bus.
    • They can’t start until the leader shows them the green traffic light.
    • They must stop when they are shown the red traffic light. The last person to stop can then take over as traffic light warden.
  • Make a book http://www.dltk-teach.com/minibooks/transportation/index.htm
    • Here you can print out in colour or black and white all the necessary pages to make a fun and simple transportation book.
    • There are a couple of worksheets to complete before launching into the book. These include matching the form of transport to where you might find it. For example ‘a boat in the sea’ or ‘a plane in the sky’.

Introduce an element of English culture by showing your children a red Double Decker London bus, a British symbol that many of them may already be familiar with.

  • Make a paper Double Decker bus using the template on the link below.
  • Photocopy it to make it larger and make it into a 3D class register.
  • Each child can bring in a photo and stick some Velcro onto the back of their photo. You can stick the other side of the Velcro onto the windows of the bus and they can place their faces on each lesson as they come in.

The Wheels on the Bus
You can make this song as politically correct as you see fit. You can maintain the mummies ‘yakking’ while the daddies ‘yawn, yawn, yawn’! or alternatively make up your own verses with the class. This is a great song that the children themselves have the potential to write their own lyrics to. Get them to think about all the different people they might see on a bus or the noises a bus makes.

The Wheels on the Bus

The wheels on the bus go round and round, all day long
The conductor on the bus says ‘Tickets please’…
The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish…
The mummies on the bus they chat, chat, chat…
The babies on the bus say ‘Boo, hoo, hoo’…

Children love playing at make-believe and an English classroom is a perfect place for this. Set up an airport workshop in your room with a check-in counter, passport control, security check and boarding gate.

  • In each corner of the room, or wherever you place each of the different counters, place role-play cards with the key expressions they will need for each situation.
  • You can have two people at each counter and various different roles for passengers. These could include a mother and her baby, a young couple, two business colleagues and an elderly couple.
  • Encourage the children to really act out their roles with actions and movements as well as using the expressions cards you will provide for them.
  • They will enjoy playing an adult situation and you should give them the opportunity to change roles from being a passenger to an airport employee.


Expressions to put onto cards:

Good morning. May I have your passport please?
How many bags do you have?


Passport control
May I have your ticket and passport please?
Thank you and have a pleasant flight.


Security check
Please put your mobile phone into your bag.
Please stand behind the yellow line


Boarding gate
Please may I have your boarding pass?
Have a pleasant flight.


The passengers have the added challenge of knowing with whom they should use each of their sentences
May I have a window / aisle seat please?
Yes here you are.
I have two bags.
Thank you


See if you can get hold of a copy of a book from the Budgie the Helicopter series. This has now also since been made into a cartoon. Children will love to learn about Budgie and his adventures before seeing the character come to life in a cartoon. Using video you can work on listening skills.

  • Show the children a very short extract from the beginning of an episode and they can then predict what they think is going to happen.
  • They can re-enact a short scene from the episode.
  • They could make up their own endings to the story and draw a picture of how they see the end of the story before actually watching it. They can describe their pictures to the class.

Today there are lots of high-speed trains like the Shanghai MagLev or the French TGV. Ask your pupils to design a high-speed train of their own, using pictures of these famous trains for inspiration.

  • For the lower levels this could be a colour and shape activity whereby they have to label their design with the colours and shapes used for the exterior design.
  • For higher levels they could do a colour dictation so that their partner has to draw the design train they describe and then once the drawing is complete they can compare it with the original.
  • The language they will need for this activity includes prepositions of place such as ‘next to’, ‘above’ and ‘below’. Shapes such as ‘squares’, ‘triangles’, ‘rectangles’ and ‘circles’ will be useful for them as well.

You can make a class train as an alternative to the school bus using their photos at the windows of the train. Have a look at the Thomas the Tank Engine website or books and cartoons if you have access to them. The books are probably more accessible to the younger learners as opposed to the cartoons due to the range of accents.

This can be approached as a scientific experiment; the only difference being is that they will do everything in English. You don’t have to be a science teacher either to make this hovercraft. You will however, have to help the children with punching holes into a film holder.

  • They make the hovercraft using primarily a balloon, plastic plate and putty.
  • The instructions are relatively easy to follow with the key words in bold type.
  • Do a fill in the gaps language activity before the children actually carry out the experiment.
  • Type all of the verbs onto large cards and place around the room. Tipex out the verbs in the text itself.
  • In pairs they must match the verb to the appropriate gap in the text. They could do this once you have carried out the experiment

Young children are more likely to see horses as pets, racers or even meat in some countries! They may be less likely to view them as a form of transport. To lead into the horses subject you could show them some pictures of horses and carts to show what we used to do and pictures of American cowboys to show what we still do. This is a picture of horse and carts that you could copy and print. http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk

The horseshoe game.
You could then show them a picture of a horse shoe. Either a close-up of a real horseshoe http://www.javajane.co.uk or one they could colour in themselves: http://www.tsl.state.tx.us Explain that horses that travel a lot need to wear shoes to protect their feet. The real American version of the horseshoe game involves throwing real metal horseshoes so I obviously advocate a more child friendly alternative for your English classroom.

  • You could set up three targets in the classroom using kitchen rolls or toilet rolls stuck together. You should set up two areas to play to avoid total confusion as to who is the nearest at the end.
  • Each child can make his own horseshoe out of paper. They could give it an individual design so that it doesn’t get confused with anyone else’s.
  • When they are ready you can explain the rules and points system whereby they each have one go to throw their ‘horseshoe’ and they must try to hit one of the targets.
  • They get one point if they hit the nearest target, two for the middle one and three for the furthest target.
  • If they manage to be the closet to a horseshoe when everyone has had a turn they get an extra point.
  • lay two or three rounds and collect up the points to find the winner.

Pin the tail on the horse
This could be a directions game whereby the children are in pairs and blindfolded. Their partner must direct them to the picture of a horse where they must stick their tail (using blutack to keep it safe) as near to the horse as possible.

Internet links

This is a quiz about public transport (pdf)

This is a quiz about travel and transport (pdf)

Cambridge flashcards for transport (pdf)

Colouring pages for all types of transportation

Thomas the Tank Engine official site

By Jo Bertrand

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