Transport games for children

All the following games and activities for kindergarten, preschool and ESL students have been tried and tested in classrooms by The Magic Crayons, who are experienced teaching professionals currently working in Japan and China.

1. Freeze

Materials: flash cards
Time: 10 minutes
Receptive Language: ‘Stop’
Productive Language: ‘Train’ etc.

Game Explanation: Set up some chairs on the side of the room for approximately 1/3 to ½ the total number of students. Explain to the children that when you yell, “stop” they have to freeze and become motionless. Shuffle the FC and call out one of the transportation FC. Everyone has to pretend to be that vehicle and “drive” around the classroom.

At random intervals yell out “stop” and make the children who can’t freeze in time sit down. Once you have students sitting down in the chairs, get them to call out the FC names for the other children. When all the seats are taken declare everyone left standing a champion. Play a couple of times and try and let the students who lost the first round win the second time through if possible.

2. Trains And Stations

Flashcards to use: transportation flash cards
Class size: whole class

Set up: Divide the class into a boys team and a girls team and have the teams line up in the center of the room and sit down.  Take 3 boys and 3 girls and place them in a corner (a train/shinkansen station) and have them sit down.  Repeat this for the remaining corners.  The number of students you place in each corner can vary depending on class size, just make sure you end up with the same number of boys and girls waiting at the stations.  The children remaining in the line in the centre of the room then become the trains.  (I recommend that you have at least 3 students to form the train at the beginning of the game).  Tell the children that will form the trains to stand up, show the train (or shinkansen) card and tell them that they are a train and get them to make a train by nicely putting their hands on the shoulders of the student in front of them.   Then instruct the students sitting at the "stations" to be quiet. 

Show the first f/c and encourage any and all of the "train" students to call out the answer.  Whichever team answers first point to them and say "boys fast!" then  make yourself the leader of the train and say "GO!" and lead them to one of the stations and stop.  Look down at the boys and tell the train to call out one of the boys names or choose a boy and say "Shunsuke!" and make the team call out "Shunsuke!".  Shunsuke is then told to stand up and join the end of the train and the teacher leads the train back to the center of the room.  Show the next card and repeat leading the winning team to pick up a team member at a different station but encourage the children to go faster. When you return to the center of the room ask the children "OK?" to see if they understand.  If they don't understand model it once more with the winner of the next card.  If the students seem to understand (which they usually will by this point) show the next card and say "Girls fast!  Go!"  and send the team to pick up someone on their own, while they are doing this do a slow count to 5 and reveal the next card (even if the other team hasn't returned from the "station" yet). 

Continue until all the children have been picked up from the stations. This is a fast paced game that seems a little crazy (especially as the train gets longer) but actually the children understand that it is in their best interest to behave properly because if they are falling all over the place and acting silly they will be too slow to win so the students monitor their own behaviour (even in wild classes!)   The students seem to catch onto this game quickly and easily if modeled slowly with the first two cards and is easy for the teacher to manipulate in order to keep things pretty even between the sexes.  If the teams answer at the same time I send both teams off at the same time which adds even more excitement!  I make sure to keep going until all students have been picked up at the stations and always try to choose a student who is fairly well behaved to be the leader of the train.

3. Rainbow Cars

Materials: whiteboard, marker
Time: 5-6 minutes
Receptive Language: instructions, colours, car
Productive Language: colours, car
Game Explanation: Based on another childhood roadtrip classic (& always more satisfying than ‘I Spy’, especially if your father thought it was funny to try & trick you & your siblings), Killer Cars requires a classroom with windows facing a (preferably busy) road. Each student selects a colour (‘White car!’, ‘Green car!’, etc). Every time a car passes the school that matches one of the students’ selected colours, that student scores a point. Whoever has the most points at the end of a pre-determined time limit is the champion.
Note: If you are in Japan pick white if you want to win.