On the road


1. To reinforce planning and budgeting skills

2. To create awareness of the potential costs and savings associated with different types of transportation

Subject Area

Social Studies (2), Math (4-5), English Language Arts (K-12)


  • How do you get to school? What are the costs associated with those forms of transportation?
  • Are there pros and cons to different types of transportation? (i.e. a bus is less expensive but slower and strictly scheduled; a taxi is convenient but expensive and comes with environmental concerns, etc.)
  • What are some ways you can reduce the cost of day-to-day travel? (i.e. get a bus pass, carpool, walk, ride a bicycle, etc.)
  • Are certain lifestyles better suited to certain modes of transportation than others? For example, a large family might need a car. What about a student?


Field Trip

Length: 1.5 hours
Materials: Flip chart paper, pens, field trip brochures and/or computer

  • Tell the class that you will be planning a year-end field trip. Present them with three options (or have the students come up with them) for where the trip might be: the zoo, a museum or recreational facility.
  • In groups, have the students figure out how much it would cost to get to each location, using public transportation, taxis or a school bus. Allow students the opportunity to contact, make phone calls, etc. to determine the costs. You may want to provide them access to technology to help them research the various options.
  • Students should also determine admission costs to each venue. As a group, have them discuss their findings and decide which activity makes the most sense from a cost and learning experience.


  • Challenge students to calculate the cost of owning a car. Make sure that they include the cost of purchasing the car, insurance, parking, gas and maintenance. (Much of this is likely unknown to new drivers!) You may choose to assign them all the same car or let them pick their own to see how the cost varies. They could also examine the costs associated with purchasing a brand new vehicle compared to one that has been used.
  • You can also encourage students to sign up to participate in the Commuter Challenge in May/June.

Collaborative Feedback

  • Have the students calculate the transportation costs of their commute to and from school. On a large piece of paper, post each type of transportation and the costs associated with it.

Teacher Tips

  • Bring in a guest speaker from an auto insurance agency, transit or a taxi company to talk to the students.

Pre- and Post-Assessment of Lesson

  • How does choosing an appropriate mode of transportation make a difference to your spending?
  • How did choosing an appropriate mode of transportation make a difference to your spending?