Transportation ideas for Social Studies

One of our Social Studies benchmarks was to read and make a simple map.  There are lots of great books that support this.


Each child made a simple map using clipart and logos, and adding construction paper features like lakes or schools or parks.

They started with a basic set of roads.

When I first started this activity I had the children glue strips of adding machine tape onto large paper, but just gluing on the roads was difficult, and I found the kids didn’t put much effort into adding the features, so I reduced it to 9 x 12 and simplified it.

Here are the clipart pictures they added.

I also had a ditto of a simple map.

Here are the masters


One of my favorite activities every year was making an assembly line to build cars!  After all, I do live in Michigan!  I told the children a very abbreviated story of how people used to have to walk, ride horses or drive carriages, until cars were invented.  Then I talk about Henry Ford and how he was looking for a way to make more cars and started to use an assembly line.

Before the children arrive I arrange the tables in a row.  I made a simple car pattern and enough parts for each child to add one.

My scanner cut off a bit of the top and front of the car.

All of the pieces are precut (hopefully by parent volunteers!)  I tell them that when they work on an assembly line they have to be trained – I call one child at a time over to the tables and explain what part they will be adding to the car.  Most of the pieces are glued on, using a glue stick.  The hood and the trunk lid have to be stapled on, I choose those kids carefully.  Children add a spare tire before the trunk is glued on, and the engine is glued on before the hood is stapled.


The windows need to face a certain way so I also need to pick auto workers who can remember which side to glue!  Other jobs are a little simpler.

When all the workers are trained and in their place I tell them that my job is Quality Control.  I walk around to be sure they are all doing their job well – because no one would want to buy a car with crooked windows, etc.

We wrote down the time the first car started down the assembly line, then noted how long it took one car to go completely through the line – and at the end – how long it took to make enough cars for each child to take one home.


Of course I “paid” the workers with a little prize or candy for all their hard work.

This project was kind of flexible depending on the number of children in my class – here are the parts I included, but if I had fewer children or kids absent I would leave off headlights, tail-lights, etc.  We did add the details to both sides of the cars.

4 black wheels

4 white hubcaps

2 front windows

2 back windows

2 doors


spare tire



2 front bumpers

2 back bumpers

2 headlights

2 tail lights

That covers 26 children – our maximum was 28 – if I needed to add more parts I made 2 doors on each side of the car – making them a little smaller.

It was always fun for me to see how the children reacted to this project.  We talked about how you could not walk away from your spot to go to the bathroom or get a drink unless you had someone to step in to do your part.  It was a great lesson on cooperation and working together too!

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