Land, Sea or Air?

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Students will be able to sort common objects into categories to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.

Big Idea

Sorting different modes of transportation onto the correct area helps students refine classification skills.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students that we are going to go for a drive. I tell the students, “When I say “Go,” you will stand up and go and find a space on and around the rug area where you will have space to move without bumping into your friends. The song we are about to do has actions and noises that we will make with our bodies in control. Now I am the traffic cop and if I see anyone with their body out of control I will ask them to park their car until they have their vehicle back under their control. Everybody ready? Okay, go.”

We drive around following the directions to the Greg and Steve song, Riding in My Car.

Once the song is over I ask the students to park their cars and walk on back to take a spot on their dot.  

Once everyone is settled back on their spot I say, “A car is type of transportation. It is a vehicle we drive on land. Can anyone tell me another vehicle that we use on land?”

I select enough students to respond to cover the many different land based forms of transportation. Once I have enough I say, “Those were all good examples of transportation that we can find on land. Today I am going to read you a book with many different forms of transportation and where they are used.”


I use the song as a fun way to help the students get into the groove of thinking about transportation and how we use it to get from place to place. 


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called The Big Book of Things That Go. This book is a non-fiction book of many different vehicles and it does not have an actual author. Instead this book has a collection of people called publishers. The publishers all decide what pictures and words go into the book and then they put it out for sale or for people to borrow. See this symbol here?”

I point to the DK letters on the book at the bottom of the cover. “This symbol means the book was published by a company called Dorling Kindersley Publishing. It is a British company so sometimes the spelling or vocabulary may be a little different to the words here in America.”

“When you are doing research in higher grades you will use non-fiction reference books to get information. They will be edited by publishers like this company. This book is a beginner’s non-fiction reference book.”

“Now that we know what type of book we are reading let’s go ahead and read our book.”   


During the reading of this book I jump around the text a lot. In fact there maybe some pages where I do not even read the entire page of text at all. This is because the book would be too long and I would lose my audience’s attention.

I tend more to focus on the discussion we have about each page. The book is divided up nicely into sections devoted to the type of transportation it is. For example, things you would find on land, on sea, in the air, emergency vehicles, construction vehicles, etc. This makes it a good book for the activity we are about to do.  


After reading I tell the students, “Now that we have finished reading I would like someone to tell me one way I can travel on land?”

I allow each student who wants to respond to get a turn.

I repeat this process for water and air.

“Those were all great modes of transportation you told me. Today at one of your work stations you will get a sheet of transport vehicles that looks like this one (I hold up a sample for the students to see). You will also get a recording sheet like this one (Again I hold up a sample for the students to see).”

Transportation Images.

Transportation Sort Recording Sheet.

“It will be your job to cut out the vehicles and glue them onto the correct place on the recording sheet. For example, where would I put the submarine?”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “The water!”

“That’s right. You will do the same thing for each mode of transportation.”
“When I look at the recording sheet I also see these lines. What do you think those lines mean I will have to do?”

Once again I allow the students to call out the response, “Label!”

“Yes, you will need to label. Anyone got any ideas what resources I could use to help me label the items?”

I select enough students to respond to cover all of the resources we could use.

“Well done; I could use the books, the vocabulary chart, my friends and the teacher.”

“As always Mrs. Clapp will be suing a checklist to make sure you have followed the directions. I will be checking for correct sorting, labels and neat tidy work and …?”

I allow the students to call out the response, “Name!”

“Yes I always like to know whose work I am looking at.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some transport sorting fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 



The Importance of Sorting.



10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me where I would find/use a particular type of transportation.

“Boys and girls, today for your exit ticket I am going to show you a type of transportation. It will be your job to tell me if I would use it on land, on water or in the air.”

I use the fair sticks to select the order in which the students get to go.

If a student has difficulty deciding where they would find the mode of transportation I show them, they can do one of two things. They can:

  1. Ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can pass and wait until everyone is gone and we will work on figuring it out together.


Using this very quick and easy exit ticket method everyday gets the students into a routine and they know what to expect as a continuation of their learning. The exit ticket gives me a quick glimpse of how a student is doing when they either fluently give me a response or if they struggle I know I may need to do each support work with that particular student. The exit ticket also supports the lesson we have just completed and ties it up before moving on with the rest of our day.  


I use the Transportation Sort Checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the point that I am looking to see if a student can sort the vehicles onto their correct location – land, sea, or air. I check to see if the student attempted to label them and what kind of resource or skills they used to write the labels. I also make comment on how neat and tidy the work is.

The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve. 


The students play transportation BINGO. They can play it using the pictures or the words based on their reading ability. This station is set up to increase student vocabulary as they work on seeing if they have a specific type of vehicle or not on their BINGO board.



At another station student work on drawing and labeling vehicles which either travel on land, water, or in the air. In the last box the student draws their favorite way to travel. 

Sample from high performing student front.                    Sample from high performing student back.

Sample from middle performing student front.                Sample from middle performing student back.

Sample from middle performing student front 2.             Sample from middle performing student back 2.

Sample from lower performing student.                           Close view of lower performing student labels.