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Topic plan: Journeys and transport (KS1)

A KS1 topic-based activity plan on Journeys and transport written by Sue Nicholls

Journeys and Transport

A topic-based plan by Sue Nicholls, offering six weeks of activities across the KS1 curriculum to integrate Song Bank songs with everyday classroom delivery.

Travel broadens the mind, so they say, but for those who value singing, travel broadens the song repertoire! Find a truckload of vocal material to support topic work on journeys and transport on the Song Bank, and use these songs to connect singing to a range of practical and simple activities for young learners.

Seaside songs

History, Literacy, Art and Design, Maths, English 

  • Let’s begin with water, so surf through a wave of watery wailers, such as: Row, row, row your boat, Going over the sea, A sailor went to sea, sea, sea, I do like to be beside the seaside and My bonnie lies over the ocean. These are all robust, familiar songs from the Song Bank and worth revisiting for a topic on sea journeys.

  • I do like to be beside the seaside evokes holiday jaunts to the coast when the children’s grandparents were young, so use this song to approach the seaside from a historical perspective. Download the Song Bank free lesson plan with this song as its title; it’s full of ideas for linking the sea to the KS1 curriculum and supports the QCA unit: What were summer holidays like long ago?

  • In Literacy, write a postcard to a best friend from an imaginary seaside holiday place. Plan carefully and write concisely so that the message will fit on to a small A5 card.

  • In Art and Design, use torn magazine pages to create a seascape with towering waves, foaming crests, rocks and sand. The torn edges are important; they give a fluid, flowing sense of movement to the finished picture.

  • For Maths, set up balance scales and invite children to using beach pebbles, shells and sand, to explore comparative weights and record their findings.

    Take the lyrics of Going over the sea and find other rhyming substitutes to create a new song:

    When I was one, I had some fun...

    When I was two, the cow went moo…

    When I was three, I climbed a tree…

  • Draw cartoons of each escapade in a 10-page zigzag book to endorse the concept of sequence and to remind the children of the rhymes they found. Create an on-going rhyme bank of words that rhyme with numbers 1 to 10.

Down to earth

PE, Dance, Maths 

  • Now switch to travelling on land and learn these two delightful songs: As I was walking down the street and Donkey riding: both offer opportunities for dance and choreography.

  • As I was walking down the street: walk, or march around the room in a random fashion, using all the available space. Once you reach the line: ‘a friend of mine I chanced to meet’, face the nearest person and shake hands. On ‘Rig a jig, jig…’ , partners hold hands and either gallop round and round in a small circle or hold one hand and skip round the room together. Once the song is familiar, ask the children to choose other greeting gestures eg. curtsey, sign ‘hello’, make hi-fives or salute! This song is featured in a Sing Up video clip here.

  • Dance to Donkey riding! Interestingly, the ‘donkey’ in this Canadian song was an engine that sailors used to help them load timber on to the deck and had nothing to do with those lovable long-eared animals that bray!

  • Stand in double lines (sets) of six partners facing each other. Direct partners to hold hands and using the words of lines 1 and 2 (8 beats), invite each pair to skip round in a small circle. Change direction for lines 3 and 4 (another 8 beats) so that everyone is back in their original place. For the chorus, the top couple holds hands again and gallops down between the two lines to arrive at the bottom of the set. For the last line of all (‘riding on a donkey’) everyone claps their partner’s hands four times. Start verse two with a new top couple. If you sing the song through twice, every couple will have a turn at being ‘top’!

  • Now to really small scale travel with the delightful Song Bank song The inch worm, which tells of the slow steady progress of the worm who moves in inches, not centimetres! It has a simple two-part chorus that could be managed by Y2 singers with support. Sing this song to work on doubling numbers and learn about an archaic measurement!

  • Explain inches to the children and conduct some comparison against centimetres so that they understand the unit of measurement. Listen to the words of the song and try out the doubling chorus: ‘Two and two are four….’

  • Work on doubling in numeracy. Draw a ‘worm’ function machine that doubles numbers and explore the relationship between inputs and outputs, then go backwards through the function machine for halving.

Magical mystery tour

Geography, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Art and Design, ICT 

  • Finish this grand tour by learning The magic travel machine. It describes a fantasy journey to all kinds of exotic places. The imaginative lyrics could be used to set children off on their own magical trips involving Writing and Geography.

  • Use Speaking and Listening to discuss places that the children would like to visit and then plan a story together that begins:

  • “The shop was empty, so I sat on the old rug and made a wish to go to _________. Suddenly the rug flew into the air, out of the shop and over the town. The adventure had started! ……”

  • Design a cover for their stories by creating a beautifully patterned rug, either with crayons or by using an ICT programme. If the children choose real places to visit, why not display a world map to plot their destinations?

Other ‘Transport and Journeys’ songs in the Song Bank include:



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