Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Onward and Upward!

Deirdre Kaufman


The students learn about various methods of travel and how they have changed over time.


The student uses knowledge and experience to tell about experiences or to write for familiar occasions, audiences, and purposes.

The student compares everyday life in different places and times and understands that people, places, and things change over time.

The student understands the differences in the methods of travel from various times in human history and the advantages and disadvantages of each (e.g., the use of animals such as horses and camels; nonmotorized vehicles such as chariots and travoises).

The student understands changes in community life over time (e.g., changes in goods and services; changes in architecture and landscape; and changes in jobs, schooling, transportation, communication, religion, and recreation).


-Software with drawing capability, such as KidPix Studio, Kidworks Deluxe
-Pictures, posters, and children's books showing transportation of the past and present
-Hall, Donald. Ox-Cart Man. New York: Scholastic Inc. 1979
-Words to -I've Been Working on the Railroad- by Nadine Westcott (see Associated File)
-Chart paper
-Venn diagram handout (see Associated File)


1. Gather books and resources showing transportation from long ago and from the present, including Ox-Cart Man.
2. Write the words to the song -I've Been Working on the Railroad- on chart paper.
3. Prepare blank Venn Diagram on bulletin board paper or chart paper and label with the headings -Transportation Past- and -Transportation Present.-
4. Make copies of the Venn diagram handout for each pair of students (see Associated File).

5. Look at web sites for sample pictures of different types of transporation.


Before teaching this lesson, assign a home project to investigate transportation from the past:
Talk to the oldest person you know (grandparent, neighbor) and ask him/her what transportation was like when he/she was a child. Students then prepare a project (at home) to show what they have learned about transportation from long ago. The project will be presented to the class during the course of this lesson. Possible projects include: a story, poem, song, diorama, poster.

When students have completed this homework assignment, proceed with this lesson.

1. As a class, sing the song -I've Been Working On the Railroad- (see Associated File). You might wish to have the song written out on chart paper for the children to follow along as they sing.

2. Tell students that it is time to share their projects with the class and to learn about transportation and how it has changed at the same time.

3. Tell students that to help them organize what they are learning, you want them to use a Venn diagram. Ask students if they know what a Venn diagram is. Discuss the purpose of a Venn diagram as necessary for your students to understand. Draw a Venn diagram on a chart and label one section with -Transportation Past- and the other with -Transportation Present- (see Associated File).

Read the Ox-Cart Man and model how to use the Venn diagram. For example, the ox-cart man has a covered wagon to haul things in. Write covered wagon in the set labeled -Transportation Past.- Ask students how we haul things today. Place their responses in the set labeled -Transportation Present.- Discuss how this has changed our everyday lives.

4. Distribute the Venn diagram to each pair of students. Tell students we will continue this process as they present their projects. Allow time for students to present their -Transportation from the Past- projects to the class. As students present their project, discuss the mode of transportation used in the past and what we do today. Chart responses on the Venn diagram. Pairs should record responses on their Venn diagrams as you record on the class Venn diagram.

To expedite this process, group presentations into categories and discuss the mode of transportation in categories. For example, let's say three students brought in projects for -walking- as the mode of transportation of the past. All three students would present consecutively. Then discuss this category and chart it after their presentations.

Continue this process until each student has presented the project. This might take a few class sessions.

5. In small groups or pairs, allow the children to continue their -research- by looking through resources. The resources might include picture books, pictures, posters, and classmates projects that show all kinds of vehicles and methods of transportation from the past and present.

Instruct students to add to their Venn diagram as they learn about transportation from the past and present.

6. As students finish their -research,- bring students together to discuss their findings. Depending on the level of your students, you can discuss the disadvantages and advantages of the different types of transportation and how the technology of transportation has changed the everyday lives of people. For example: Wagons used in the past took a long time to get from place to place, but they did not need to have gas! Now we drive vans to transport people and cargo. It's much faster, but we have to pay more for fuel.

Using software with drawing tools, students create two pages of vehicles sorted into PAST and PRESENT. Depending on the level of the children and the time you are willing to spend on it, you may choose to have them draw only one or two vehicles for each category. They may refer to the transportation resources to do -research- and get ideas of what the vehicles look like.

8. They can either label the pictures or write sentences describing what they have learned by typing under their pictures.


Formative assessment occurs while student is completing the project. Does the project include

-Drawings of vehicles from the past?
-Drawings of vehicles of the present?
-Are the vehicles in the correct categories?
-Are the pictures labeled or described in writing?

Through one-on-one discussion with the child while completing the project, check to see if the child can tell how transportation has changed and how the changes affect our everyday life.

The teacher gives feedback as child progresses toward completion.


Graphing- How did you get to school today?

Writing- -The day my mom's car turned into a horse and buggy.-

Inventors and inventions- Using various materials, create your own vehicle! Miniature, of course!

Working with words: tr blend, tion ending, r-controlled vowels or,ar,er,ir,ur.

Web Links

Web supplement for Onward and Upward!
Antique Photos

Web supplement for Onward and Upward!
Historical Photos

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.