Finding things to entertain you and your child on public transportation can be daunting. Try out some of these activities now or on your next commute!
- Count: There are innumerable categories of things to count on public transportation. You could start by counting the number of doors, windows, or chairs and then ask your child what they would like to count next. If you are on a bus or if the Metro goes above ground, you can also include those objects you can see outside the train.
- Seek for Shapes: Just like counting, there are a large variety of shapes to discover on public transportation. Start by selecting a shape to look for and see how many different places it can be discovered.
- Check yourself out!: Often the train will speed through tunnel after tunnel. Use this time to make some faces at each other. Choose an emotion to portray and talk about how you and your child’s expressions are different or similar.
- Play Mystery Object: If you’re with your child, chances are that you have a big bag of stuff! Have your child reach their hand into your bag and pick up an object but not pull it out of the bag. Ask them to describe it (smooth, cold, small, etc.) and try guessing what the object might be.
- Look for Letters: Practice pre-literacy by looking for letters in all the signage (at least those ads are good for something!)
- Explore Newton’s First Law of Motion: Ok, at first glance this seems out of your child’s league but really this is an easy concept to take on! Newton’s First Law of Motion is that an object in motion will stay in motion until affected by an external force. This is why you lean forward when the train car comes to a stop. Your child probably has already started exploring this when they want to stand and “surf” on the train. A safe and easy way to explore this concept to sit on the edge of your seat leaning away from the back of the chair. You and your child will feel the pull forward as the train comes to a stop!
- Give Directions: Sit near the map of the Metro system on the train (or use a pocket version) and take turns giving directions to different stops. Select a stop and have your child tell you which color line the stop is on or if you want to get really tricky, see if they can figure out the transfer station. This will develop their visual literacy and knowledge of their surroundings – this can help keep them safe in case you were ever separated.
- Read or Draw on a Newspaper: Pick up a free paper and share some of the appropriate stories with your child. If you have a pen you could also use it as a doodle-pad for you and your child.
- Play What’s That Noise?: Public transportation is full of sounds. Use this time as a way to practice listening. Pick a sound (something that is isolated: a loud speaker announcement, a shoe tapping, a door opening, etc.) and have your child try to identify it by pointing and describing.
- Time something: Children loved to be timed. Use a watch, smartphone, or count to measure how long it takes you or your child to do something. This could be something as simple as taking gloves off, tying a shoe, or, if you are traveling at off peak times, getting from one end of the train car to the other (only if this can be done safely).
How did it go? Share your thoughts about these activities and suggest others below!