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EYFS Home role-play area: ‘Bus journeys’

How do we get to where we want?


This resource builds on children’s everyday experiences of transport; this could be using transport themselves or experiences through their community, books or media. Children can build their understanding of journeys and places through learning about how a bus moves around a local or familiar area. They will connect their own experiences to their new learning, with opportunities for mark-making, writing and mapping. This foundational knowledge develops spatial awareness and prepares for learning about transport, roads and networks in key stages 1, 2 and beyond.


Links to Understanding the world

  • Frequency and range of experiences increases children’s knowledge and sense of the world around them
  • Learning about local area and community
  • Using and creating simple maps


Links to other areas of the EYFS

  • Communication and Language: This activity provides opportunities for interactions, back and forth exchanges, encouraging use of new vocabulary and speaking.
  • Expressive arts and design: Imaginative play opportunities.
  • Physical development: Using numbers and print in the environment, on timetables and bus routes.


Starting points

You will need:

  • Images of local buses and timetables (these can usually be found for local transport networks online)
  • Large sheet of paper
  • Map of local area
  • Toy vehicle to use as a ‘bus’


Activity idea: ‘Going out’

Explore with the children, either as a whole group activity or in small groups, all the kinds of transport and vehicles they know. What is a bus and what does it do? Explain that a bus is vehicle carrying passengers. It travels along roads, and usually has a fixed route with places to get on and off. People might need a ticket, a pass or to pay a fare to get on to the bus. Show a bus image that looks similar to buses in your local area, or an area familiar to the children. Use a non-fiction book to introduce bus transport in more detail if children need more support with this.


What do you notice about the bus, and why are those features there?

  • Number or writing on the display screen
  • Wheels
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Adverts or pictures on the side
  • Does it have two floors or one?
  • Can you estimate how many passengers the bus could carry?


How would I know where to catch a bus if I needed to? Show a bus route map; notice colour coding and familiar places. Try to use a map of an area familiar to the children where possible. Introduce the idea of bus stops and point out local stops on your bus map. These are usually located near buildings or places people might want to get to such as medical centres, shops, areas of housing, parks or green space, cultural sites or a train station, for example.

How would I know what time the bus was coming? Have a look at a basic timetable together, this shows what time the bus should arrive at each stop.


On a large piece of paper draw a simple map of the area around your school or an area familiar to the children. Add roads and shapes to show buildings. Use colour to show green space, roads and water. Plan a bus route from school, decide on some useful stops and mark them on your map using a symbol. Join them together to show a bus route on your map. Ask children to check that the route works by driving a toy bus along the route: does it take us where we wanted to go? Challenge children to create their own bus routes in areas of your provision using maps of the local area as a starting point, thinking about where they will put the stops and why.

Build on this learning in your provision:

  • Create a bus role-play area using chairs set up in rows and a seat for a driver. Children can make timetables, tickets and a map of the bus route.
  • If you have a car mat or small world area, use toy vehicles as buses. Can children draw or use masking tape to create their own bus routes? Where do these routes take passengers to?
  • If possible, organise a visit to a bus stop and walk a short bus route to find the next stop.
  • You could organise a visit from a bus or bus driver to talk about what their job is and how the bus operates.
  • Model the language needed to catch a bus, asking what time the next bus leaves and where the bus stops.

How to make this successful

  • Children will have varying experiences of seeing or using a bus. You may need to explain, demonstrate and model new vocabulary and actions.
  • Some children may prefer to make their own mini-bus route in a tray, or to play with one peer or a smaller group.
  • Act as a scribe for children’s ideas and modelling mapping skills.
  • Talk to the children to encourage thinking about where the bus would stop and why they have chosen that stop.

Ideas to build on knowledge

  • Revisit this learning if you use buses for school trips, or where you encounter public transport in books and stories.
  • Incorporate non-fiction texts, printed timetables and maps into your continuous provision.


Primary Geography/Teaching Geography/Geography articles

Murray, J. (2018) ‘Discovering play’, Primary Geography, 95, pp. 6-7.

Trevor, C. (2018) ‘The Start Gallery: Where can the Naughty Bus take us geographically?’, Primary Geography, 95, p 5.

Barlow, A. and Witt, S. (2014) ‘Joy of the little journeys’, Primary Geography, 85, p 30.


This Teaching Resource was written for the Geographical Association by Sarah Sprake.

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