Trans: A Montessori Game for Toddlers

It was almost a year ago now that I went on a Montessori reading spree, looking for activities to do with my then-18-month-old. I found a few suggestions for the under-threes and in my reading I came across a game called Trans (I think it was in Montessori Play and Learn, but I'm not positive). It's a simple categorization game in which the child determines whether each mode of transport in question belongs in the water, the land, or the sky. Since then I've seen many, many iterations out there and I introduced Silas to it with our own felt board version this spring.

When I came across the Toobs for air, water, and land, though, I thought they would be perfect for the game and decided to give it a try this weekend.

I searched for appropriate photos online (search for "free" or "royalty free" "stock photos" plus your keyword), printed them out and laminated them. I laid down each picture, one at a time and said, "this is water," "this is land," and "this is the sky." Then I brought out the basket that held all the figures and handed him an airplane. "Where does the airplane go?" I asked.

It didn't take long before he asked me to put the basket down so that he could choose which vehicle to do next.

There was even an opportunity for some extended learning. There were a couple of the boats and airplanes that we had never encountered before and he asked what they were. Before naming them, I tried to give him the space to figure it out himself by asking questions. "What's that? Well, does it have wings? No. Does it have wheels? No. I think it might be a kind of boat. It's a cargo ship."

It was so interesting to see the ways in which he had the figures interact with the photographs. He "drove" the cars along the road and "flew" the airplanes through the sky.

He's been very interested in matching things, events, words, and ideas to those that he encounters in books. His recall is amazing; better than my own. When going through the new airplane figures, he went and got a book about airplanes and matched the propeller plane in his hand to the illustration in the book.

This seems like a very simple activity, and it is, but it is one that we have returned to many times over the past six months, with the felt board and now with the models, and he really enjoys it every time. With each repetition his knowledge is deepened and reinforced.


Safari LTD is generously offering a Toob to one lucky A Life Sustained reader so that you can try this activity out in your home. To enter the random drawing to win, just leave a comment on this post telling me which Toob you would select. If the winner is following Safari LTD on any of their social media sites (links below), an extra surprise figure will be included, so be sure to include that information (which social media site and your name on that site) in your comment.

Comments will be closed on August 12 and a winner will be announced in this post shortly thereafter. For an extra entry, "like" A Life Sustained on Facebook and leave a second comment letting me know that you did so.

And the lucky winner is...
"I've never heard of toobs before, but they look like fun! I like the Around the World toob."

Thank you Safari!

I was in no way compensated for this post. I purchased these Toobs and chose to write about them because we really do like them.


  1. Love the Space Toob.
    Liked Safari LTD on FB (Odi Ki).
    Thanks for the chance!

  2. Liked you on FB (Odi Ki).

  3. What a wonderful activity! I'm totally going to have to try this out with my son! I love Safari Ltd. Toobs, and we totally use them for so many of our learning activities!

  4. I also liked you on FB! (Nicole Kavanaugh)

    Oh, and I would pick one of the Ocean or coral reef sets!

  5. I've never heard of toobs before, but they look like fun! I like the Around the World toob.

  6. We've just discovered Toobs, I'd pick the New York or Ocean set.

  7. I just started following you on Facebook. (Jen Radinsky)

  8. I absolutely love this idea and can't wait to try it with my son. It's so hard to pick one Toob set, but I had my eye on the transportation one at the store the other day. Also, following Safari on Pinterest!

  9. We have just discovered the adventures that can be had with Safari Toobs and love to try the On the Water or On the Road Toob. I also follow Safari on Pinterest (Kate Jones).

  10. And just started following you on Facebook.

  11. I love Safari LTD toobs! I have my eye on many of them but I know the space toob would be a HUGE hit with my son. I already follow Safari ltd on social media :)

  12. I like your facebook page (as my page, Racheous) :)

  13. Ooh, I love this activity! I'm off to add these three Toobs to my daughter's birthday list. :) But, the one that I'm hoping/planning to buy next is the Dogs tube. I think she's almost ready for some small-world play and is a HUGE fan of dogs.
    I follow Safari LTD on Facebook. :)

  14. Oh, we love Safari Ltd! If we won, we would love the River Toob, since we will be exploring rivers and ponds in our next habitat unit.

  15. I liked A Life Sustained on Facebook under the name Kristan Price. I also like Safari Ltd. on Facebook under the same name, as well as on Pinterest under Munchkinandbean.