Early Literacy in Everyday Places – On Public Transportation

Early literacy can take place anywhere, anytime. There are a number of ways to make everyday activities fun learning experiences. Also, young children can get restless on public transportation. Whether you are in for a short or long ride, try one of these activities to make the trip more entertaining for everyone.

Activities to Try

Counting objects - You can work on basic concepts like counting, colors and shapes by having your children describe, list or name objects they see outside their window. Have your child count all the red cars they pass on the ride. Before getting aboard, ask them to guess how many stoplights they pass on the trip, then have count during the ride. Teach them about opposites by asking them to count how many people onboard are wearing hats and how many aren't wearing hats.

Make Up Stories - Storytelling is vital for a young children's literacy development. Let them get creative with their wishful thinking. Pretend the bus is taking you away to magical location. Have your child describe what their dream trip would be. Pretend the bus is really a spaceship going to outer space, what do you see floating among the stars?

Talk About Your Day - Another great way to build a child's vocabulary and develop comprehension skill is to discuss what activities you've completed that day or what you have planned. As you board the bus or train, talk about where you were and what you were doing. Ask your child to narrate your day so far. Tell them where you are going next, or what you will be doing next. Or ask your child to guess what your next destination will be, and see how creative they get with this guessing game. Knowing what is going to happen next gives young children a strong sense of security. It also replicates a story by having a beginning, a middle and an end. Being able to recognize and narrate in this order will be a great resource when they begin to read novels in school.

Review transportation terminology - Whether you are taking the bus or the train, review the relevant terminology that goes with the trip. Point out the name of the vehicle (train, light rail), if it rides along tracks or the ground, if it requires a ticket or just a small payment, or if you use a pass to get onboard. Not only does this build vocabulary, but it also gives your child the information they'll need later on in life when its time to board that bus on their own for the first time.

Read On The Bus - See if your child can read the signs posted within the bus or light rail. Ask them to describe what they see in the pictures if they can't read yet.

Sing songs - The Wheels on the Bus is always a fun song to sing. Make up verses based on what you see happening the bus. For example:

"The people on the bus,
play on their phones, play on their phones, play on their phones,
the people on the bus,
play on their phones, all through the town."

Suggested Reading

(Don't forget that these books can count for your 1000 Books Before Kindergarten log).

My Bus by Byron Barton - J Picture Book Barton

School Bus by Donald Crews - J Picture Book Crews

Train by Elisha Cooper - J Picture Book Cooper

I Love Trains by Philemon Sturges - J Picture Book Sturges