A list of transit-themed activities for working parents and bored kids

April 8, 2020
Math, models, coloring and more for when you need to occupy children or yourself.

Our house is currently in week four of self-isolation following the issuance of a stay at home order in Illinois. Schools are closed and e-learning has commenced (with mixed results). Screen time and frustration levels have been high, victories few and daily walks have helped us all burn off pent up energy.

What’s also helping is knowing my family is not alone. I have noticed an increase in emails sent late at night or early in the morning from fellow working parents who are walking the same tightrope.

An unexpected assist has been from the transit agencies that have developed several kid-friendly activities. These math sheets, activity pages and coloring pages were most liking made outside of the current pandemic time frame, but their value has skyrocketed under the current circumstances.

I’ve tried to compile a list. If I’ve missed something, please send me a note and I’ll add it. My hope in sharing this is that those of us with demanding careers, working spouses and energetic kids can squeeze just a bit more productivity out of a day. Afterall, we’re in this together.

Omaha Metro Transit: This activity kit can entertain a mix of ages, but may be best for kids under the age of 10. Kids can make their own bus pass, design a bus, try their hands at trip planning in Omaha, help buses through a maze and find words in a wordsearch. Download Omaha Metro Transit's activity kit here.

Chatham Area Transit (CAT): If you’ve followed Mass Transit’s “Five Good Things,” these will be familiar. Chatham Area Transit provided four math sheets using buses, ferries and subway cars to help younger elementary children practice addition and subtraction skills. Download CAT’s math activity here.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART): “The Maintenance Machines of BART” showcase, in superhero-type graphics, the mighty maintenance machines that keep BART’s rail system in top shape. Children can learn about rail grinders, locomotives, tampers and a hi-rail-capable vactor vehicle. To learn about BART’s maintenance machines and download a copy of the vehicles to color, click here.

Sound Transit: Sound Transit has two coloring sheets aimed at kids that showcase Link light rail in Tacoma and Seattle, as well as two more intricate sheets for older kids or adults who need to exercise their creativity. View and download Sound Transit’s coloring pages here.

Sytral: Sytral, the public transport authority in Lyon, France, has produced four models of transit vehicles kids of all ages can print out and assemble. Choose from a funicular, a tram, an autonomous shuttle or a metro vehicle. Bonus: The instructions and fun facts are in French, so there is the possibility for both an engineering and a language lesson. Download PDFs of the models at Sytral’s website.

Alexandria Transit Company (DASH): Sheet for adults or kids to color their own hybrid DASH bus. Download the sheet here.

Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA): Another multimodal approach to activity sheets. Color a CDTA bus or a CDPHP Cycle. The coloring sheets are available here for download

Metra: The Chicago-area commuter rail provider has a treasure trove of activities that not only entertain, but help educate children about rail safety. Metra's classroom resource page is located here

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART): Kids (or adults) can color, cut and build their own HART bus. HART is requesting photos of the finished products be sent to the agency so they can "spread the sunshine," which we could all use right now. Download the HART bus model here

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART): Take an adventure on DART with the agency's activity book "Off We Go On a DART Adventure," available for download here. This link includes the answer key to the educational activities found within the book.  

Bytemark: Bytemark's coloring book is multimodal and includes a ferry, bus, train and more. Download the entire book here

Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA): DCTA has put together a rich resource page, not only containing educational and craft activities for kids, but it includes mobility-themed story time videos from well-known characters such as Elephant and Piggy and Daniel Tiger. The page also contains links to virtual tours, such as a tour inside a passenger train. Explore all the options included in DCTA's page here

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.