transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water

Try This Exciting Transportation Activity: Land, Air, Water

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Montessori land air and water transportation activity with vehicles

In my previous blog post, we started to take a summer break from the Montessori language sequence, and I shared DIY parts of a butterfly puzzle

We continue our summer break with an exciting land, air, and water transportation activity with vehicles! The idea came from our recent vacation.

This summer, we went on a trip to visit family in New York City. My almost five-year-old daughter, Annie, was so excited because she got to go on an airplane, a bus, a train, and a boat during our trip!

In this post, I’ll share how I made the land, air, and water mat for vehicles. If you don’t have time to make the mat or if you don’t have the vehicles on hand, I made a land air and water sorting with vehicles printable for you to download. 
transportation activity pin

In This Post

Real Experiences with Geography

Transportation activity, Montessori Geography, land air and water, mat, animal sorting
sorting animals on the land, air, and water mat

Beginning land, air, and water activity

This post is part 2 of my previous post, Hands-on and Fun Montessori Geography: Start With Essential Land, Air, and Water Activities. I went into great detail about how to do this beginning geography activity with animals on a mat I made with felt. See the photo above. Annie was three years old at the time!

I discuss how we do hands-on exploration first. With little mason jars, we went out into the backyard and collected dirt for the land jar, watering can water for the water jar, and scooped up some air for the air jar. 

We used various Safari Ltd. Toobs for the land, air, and water animals and sorted them on the felt mat. 

In this previous post, I also discussed the importance and purpose of introducing geography to young children and exploring the world around them. 

According to my notes and experience in the Montessori classroom and as a Montessori teacher educator, objectives for teaching geography to young children include to:

  • awaken your child’s natural interests in the world around her
  • develop your child’s curiosity and investigation within her
  • become sensitive to the relationships and differences of all peoples

Additionally, land, air, and water activities help young children to:

  • be aware of the separation of the world into land, air, and water
  • prepare for later work with maps and geographic concepts
sorting vehicles

Transportation vehicles activity

Instead of sorting animals, another fun variation is the exploring geography with vehicles. As young children explore the world around them, they experience traveling, like riding in a car or on a bus or train, depending on where they live.

Additionally, when we go on vacation or go on a trip to visit family members, it’s an opportunity for our children to explore different cities, states, or countries using various modes of transportation.

As I mentioned earlier in the introduction, recently, we went on a trip to New York City to visit relatives. Annie got to experience going on the airplane, bus, train, and boat! 

We also did a lot of walking in the Rockefeller area of Manhattan. It was a cool opportunity for Annie to explore a new area of our country; it was a real-life geography lesson.

transportation activity, land air and water, Montessori
on the boat in New York City

Sometimes kids travel every day to go to school or go out and run errands with mom and dad using different types of transportation. Also, you may walk a lot if you live in a city or close to a downtown area.

Traveling and going places regularly helps young children build their awareness of their world and their early understanding of geography.

According to the Naeyc article, A Sense of Place: Human Geography in the Early Childhood Classroom, young children study geography through their day-to-day experiences, for example, walking downtown with their families. The article points out:

"Many geography-related investigations and curriculum ideas for young children begin with children’s relationships with people and places."

I would add to that by saying that this also incorporates experiences with travel and different modes of transportation. 

With these fun explorations in mind, we can create a fun and hands-on land, air, and water transportation activity with a handmade mat and sort vehicle figures or pictures.

Land, air, and water mat activity with vehicles

transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
mat with vehicles

I used individual craft paper pieces from my local arts and crafts store, Michaels, for the land, air, and water transportation activity mat to make the mat. They usually cost a dollar each, and I bought five pieces of craft paper. It’s very inexpensive.

You could also make this mat with felt like I did last time for the animal sorting, which is also very inexpensive, but I wanted to try something different.

For the vehicle objects, I used the Safari Ltd. vehicle Toobs, which you can also find at Michaels, Amazon, or directly at Safari:

transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
land, air, and water mat with vehicle figures

I have used the “on the road” Toob for a previous blog post, You’ll Love This Vocabulary Activity (Montessori 3-Part Cards)

I used the road vehicles as the topic for how to do the Montessori 3-part card lesson for vocabulary enrichment. 

To complete the set, I made two more sets of 3-part cards, including the “in the sky” and “in the water” Toob vehicles for you to download! 

* Sign up for the Resources Library at the bottom of this post if you’d like to download the land, air, and water transportation vehicles printables I made. If you’re a subscriber, check my newest email for the updated password.

transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
land, air, and water mat made with craft paper

How to make the paper land, air, water mat

I got two 12″ by 12″ light blue craft card stock paper and taped them together in the back with duct tape. This is for the sky and the background. It also holds the entire mat together. 

The bonus is that you can fold the mat in half to store it. 

You will also need:

  • one 12″ by 12″ teal blue craft card stock paper for the ocean
  • one 12″ by 12″ green craft card stock paper for the land, trees, and mountains
  • one 12″ by 12″ charcoal gray craft card stock paper to cut for the road
  • regular glue stick to glue together all the pieces
  • white crayon to draw the dashes on the road
  • Extra card stock if needed, like white card stock for clouds or a different color for a bridge.
transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
sorting vehicles on the mat

Of course, you could use what you already have at home, like construction paper, standard colored card stock you already have, or felt. You could also draw or paint a land, air, and water scene on a large piece of paper if you’d prefer to do it that way.

First, I sketched how I wanted the mat to look first on a regular piece of paper with a pencil. You can make the mat as simple or complex as you’d like. Making the road over the water like a bridge would be cute, but this is optional. 

Next, draw and cut the teal blue card stock and glue it for the ocean at the bottom first. Then draw and cut out the green land the way you want it and glue it above the ocean. Add trees and mountains if you’d like.

Last, draw and cut out the charcoal gray to make the road and glue that on top. Draw dashes for the road with a white crayon. Cut out the white clouds and glue them in the sky. 

It’s up to you how you want to make the mat. Take a look online for more ideas and inspiration. 

Bonus: sorting cards and 3 part cards for transportation vehicles

transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
transportation vehicle sorting cards

There are other options if you don’t have vehicle figures for the land, air, and water transportation activity. 

You could use vehicle toys or animal figures you already have around the house. You could also look for pictures in books and magazines or search for images or clip art online and print them out.


transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
matching the figures to the cards

I also made printable cards for this activity if you want to download them. I created sorting cards as well as 3-part cards.

The sorting cards include nine vehicle photos for land, air, and water and a word and photo label for each. 

Three-part cards include the identical nine vehicle photos. The photos also match the figures from Safari Ltd. Toobs. You could make it into a matching activity!

3-part cards for land vehicles

Land – on the road:

  • ATV
  • delivery truck
  • fire truck
  • motorcycle
  • pick-up truck
  • police car
  • school bus
  • semi truck
  • sports car


transportation activity, Montessori, air vehicles
3-part cards for air vehicles

Air – in the sky:

  • biplane
  • blimp
  • helicopter
  • hot air balloon
  • jet plane
  • jumbo jet
  • parachutist
  • small aircraft
  • space shuttle
transportation activity, Montessori, water vehicles
3-part cards for water vehicles

Water – in the water:

  • battleship
  • cargo ship
  • cruise liner
  • jet ski
  • motor boat
  • steamboat
  • submarine
  • tug boat

* Sign up for the Resources Library at the bottom of this post if you’d like to download the land, air, and water transportation vehicles printables I made. If you’re a subscriber, check my newest email for the updated password.

transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
sorting the cards on the mat

You can use the cards to sort them as is on the table or a floor mat. You can also use the cards with your land, air, and water transportation activity mat, if you made one. 

If you have the vehicle figures you can use both the figures and the cards on the mat. Annie tried this and has fun matching and sorting them this way.  

transportation activity, Montessori, land air and water
sorting figures and pictures

There are so many ways that you can explore with the mat, the vehicle figures, and the cards. I left everything on the shelf for Annie, and it was interesting to observe her take everything out independently and explore it in her own way.

She even took out the mat, pretended to be a teacher, and “taught” her stuffed animals. It showed her confidence in the activity!

Concluding Thoughts about Land, Air, and Water with vehicles

Young children love cars, trucks, boats, and planes! They get so excited when out and about or traveling. Incorporating vehicles and making it a transportation activity is an exciting variation of this beginning geography lesson.

I realized that one of Annie’s favorite parts of our trip to New York City was to go on the train to Grand Central Station in Manhattan. 

After making my land, air, and water mat, it occurred to me that I didn’t include train tracks or train figures. I also realized that Safari Ltd. has a Train Toob! I may come up with a train activity for Annie in the future. 

Does your child like land, air, and water vehicles and trains? What’s a favorite? Leave a comment below!

More Montessori Resources

Coming up next, back to the language sequence:

Montessori Metal Insets: 11 Essential Lessons Great for Writing

Montessori land, air, and water transportation activity with vehicles

land 3-part cards pin
water 3-part cards pin
land air water sorting cards pin

27 thoughts on “Try This Exciting Transportation Activity: Land, Air, Water”

  1. My son is 2.5 years old and he will love this activity! Thanks so much for sharing and going into so much detail! Love it!

  2. Hey, your land, air, and water transportation activity is a total hit! I tried it with my little one, and we had a blast exploring vehicles. The DIY mat and printable cards are genius. Your post is an inspiration for interactive learning. Can’t wait for more Montessori gems! 🚗✈️🚢

    1. Hi Monidipa,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for your kind words! I’m so glad the Montessori transportation activity was a big hit with your little one!

  3. I love this project idea! It’s fantastic and just perfect for my grandkids who are homeschooled. The step-by-step instructions are great, and I’m sure they’ll absolutely adore doing this activity. Thanks for sharing such an awesome idea!

  4. Wow! This is great! You are so creative. I babysit two boys and have been wanting to make arts and crafts with them. This is something we can do together, maybe a bit more simplified. Thank you for this post! I really appreciate it!

  5. These are such great activity ideas. I’m sure my nephew will enjoy doing them when I visit tomorrow. They are perfect to do on the rainy days we’ve been having.

  6. This is a great and creative activity, especially for home schooling parents. In my household we do a lot of reading and math, but I’ll see if I can add some geography into our day to day learning. Just curious though, how long did it take you to create everything for this activity?

    1. Hi Nadia,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about the geography transportation activity! It usually takes me about 30-60 minutes to pull together a Montessori lesson. It depends on what I already have on hand. Once you get the hang of it and if you have a plan, it goes quicker every time!

  7. What a creative exercise for kids! It is really visually appealing and I can see how there are many benefits to this activity.

  8. Nnniiccceeee…I love the appearance of the transportation mat. There is a lot of ideas that come to mind, as the little one moves around these trucks and boats.

  9. This is such a great idea! I can see it being used in the Life Skills classroom I worked in last year. I’m going to share it with that teacher as I think she would really like this activity for her students.

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      I’m so happy you enjoyed reading about the Montessori land, air, and water transportation activity! Thank you for sharing with the teachers you know!

  10. This matching activity is awesome! We can vary it too and use other vocabs and not just vehicles.

  11. This is so creative! I love the matching cards as well, and I can see my nephew getting really excited about learning through this game. Thank you for the printables, this is such a valuable resource.

    1. Hi Ellanor,

      I’m so glad that you will try this transportation activity with your nephew. I’m glad you enjoy the printables!

  12. I completely agree! It’s amazing to see how enthralled young children can be with vehicles of all kinds. Incorporating transportation into a geography lesson is a genius idea and can make learning about different modes of transportation even more exciting. Adding train tracks and figures to your activity mat would make for a great addition, especially with the Safari Ltd. Train Toob. I’m sure Annie would love it!

    1. Hi Sonia,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, a similar transportation activity with the trains would be amazing!

  13. This looks like such a fun and educational activity! Traveling is fun and playing and learning with the land, sea, and air activity complements travel perfectly!

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