Theme: Transportation

Vehicles and Movement

Children will explore movement by moving like different vehicles used for transportation, such as airplanes and boats.

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What You Will Need

  • Large space – enough for children to move safely without touching each other
  • Music – any movement music (see Lesson Tips for suggestions)
  • Audio device – for playing music
  • Rubber spots – 1 per child (see Lesson Tips)
  • Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Chart paper
  • Marker

What To Do

Note: Before beginning the lesson, place a rubber spot on the floor for each child, making sure they have plenty of space for movement (see Lesson Tips).

  1. Ask the children to tell you some of the vehicles they have traveled in, and record them on the chart paper.
  2. Compare the movements of the different vehicles and how they get people from place to place.
  3. Tell the children they will be pretending to move like some of the different vehicles on the list.
  4. Discuss the important rules of dance lessons (see Lesson Tips), and have the children stand up and perform the steps of the warm-up (see Lesson Tips).
  5. Have the children stand on their “home” spots.
  6. Demonstrate the airplane position by lying on your stomach with arms and legs outstretched, and the “take-off” position by lifting your arms and legs off the ground; have the children follow along.
  7. Tell the children that the drum is the signal for “take-off” position and the tambourine is the signal for them to stand up and move around the room on tiptoe with their arms outstretched, alternating left and right diagonals to mimic the wings of a plane. 
  8. Cue the music (see Lesson Tips), and repeat the patterns of “take-off” and moving around the room. When the music stops, children will return to their home spots.
  9. Change the music for moving like boats (see Lesson Tips).
  10. For moving like boats, pair up the children sitting with their feet together and holding hands. They will row the boat by rocking back and forth to the beat of the music.
  11. Discuss how moving like an airplane is different from moving like a boat.
  12. Wrap up the session with some cool-down movements. These can be any type of slow, calming movements.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me how vehicles can get people from place to place.
  • Explain how an airplane moves.
  • Describe how you moved like an airplane.
  • Explain how a boat moves.
  • Describe how you moved like a boat.
  • Compare the movements of the two vehicles—how are they the same? How are they different?

Explore, Extend and Integrate

  • Display pictures of different vehicles, and have children move like the different vehicles.
  • Create a class bar graph of children’s favorite vehicles.
  • Place old magazines, glue, paper, and scissors in the art area. Have children cut and glue pictures of different vehicles to create transportation collages.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children explain that vehicles use movement to get people from place to place?
  • Could children explain that an airplane moves in the sky?
  • Could children describe their movement as an airplane?
  • Could children explain that a boat moves through water?
  • Could children describe their movement as a boat?
  • Could children describe the similarities and differences in the movement of the two vehicles? 

Did You Know?

Incorporating movement into the daily routine helps to improve alertness, attention, and motivation. As children are moving throughout shared space, they learn spatial concepts, build motor skills, and learn social skills for working together. Movement provides an outlet for emotional self-expression in a safe and nonthreatening environment.

Learn More »


  • movement
  • vehicle
  • boat
  • airplane
  • take-off
  • row  

Child-Friendly Definitions »

Content provided by:

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Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.**

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Did You Know?

Incorporating movement into the daily routine helps to improve alertness, attention, and motivation. As children are moving throughout shared space, they learn spatial concepts, build motor skills, and learn social skills for working together. Movement provides an outlet for emotional self-expression in a safe and nonthreatening environment. 

Movement activities provide varied opportunities for theme-related lessons. In a transportation theme, children can be prompted to move like different types of vehicles. Vehicles used for transportation can include cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, or boats, and all of these vehicles move differently. Children can be challenged by engaging their critical thinking skills to solve problems while moving from place to place. 


  • movement – a way of changing position or place.
  • vehicle – a thing used to carry and move people or things.
  • boat – an open vehicle that moves on water.
  • airplane – a machine with wings that can fly.
  • take-off – the act of leaving the ground in preparation for flight.
  • row – using oars to move a boat forward.

Lesson Tips

- If rubber spots are not available, use tape to mark spots for children.

- Suggested music selections include Dream Machine, Mark Farina #3 (airplane), and Row Your Boat, The Backyardigans #5 (boats).

- Important rules of dance lessons:

a. Listen to the teacher; wait to move and stop movement when the teacher tells you.

b. Keep your body safe while moving.

c. Stay in your own self-space.

- Steps of the warm-up:

a. Breathing – Take several deep breaths in and out slowly.

b. Touch – Using gentle energy, tap/tickle your skin all over the body (arms, shoulders, belly, legs, etc.). Then, using stronger energy, squeeze all over your body to wake up your skin and senses.

c. Get Moving – Do several movements that will get the blood flowing. Some examples might be jumping, running in place with high knees, swinging arms or kicking legs, and jumping with legs crossed and then with legs open.


- Getting There by Marla Stewart Konrad

- Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley

- The Pigeon Loves Things That Go! by Mo Willems

- Richard Scarry’s Hop Aboard! Here We Go! by Richard Scarry

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  2. There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.

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