This month’s theme was Transportation: Boats, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Always a favorite theme, especially with the boys! Here are some ideas for transportation activities that toddlers and preschoolers love.
Sorting Cars. Make cardboard garages (or use colored paper to make “parking spaces”) for your child’s cars. Encourage your child to sort the cars by color. Sorting into categories is a great foundational skill for later learning.
Shape collage: Make cut-outs of truck bodies and tires they assemble littlefamilyfun.com/2014/01/build-truck.html
Free Play Activities – You Prep, They Play
Draw a City. Use a big box your child can climb into, or flatten out a smaller box. Draw roads and buildings on it. They can drive cars around the roads. You can also build cardboard tunnels to drive through and bridges to go over. You could also try out PlayTape which is tape you stick to the floor which has an image of a road on it.
Ramps. Take a flat piece of cardboard. Tilt it by propping on a piece of furniture. Race cars down it. Even better, put a tower of blocks at the bottom to crash the cars into. You can play with angles – the steeper the inclined plane, the faster the car goes.
Magnet Car. Draw a road on a paper plate. Make a paper car with a magnet on it. Use a magnet wand under the paper plate to drive the car around.
Bubble Popping Car: Tape bubble wrap to a table. They can drive a toy car or truck over it to pop the bubbles. This is a good strength builder as they have to press hard to pop.
Taped Road Pretend Play: Use masking tape on the floor to mark out roads (or train tracks) wide enough that your child can crawl along them, pretending to be a car (or train). Add cardboard boxes for tunnels, garages, and more. Toddler Approved has great pictures for this idea.
Build a Cardboard Car and Have a Drive-In Movie: Use a box big enough for your child to sit in comfortably, and decorate it to look like a car. This can be very simple, or as complex a project as you want. Find the tutorial for making a cardboard car.
Once the car project is complete, celebrate with a drive-in movie. Watch your favorite movie – you can sit on the couch, they sit in their car. Serve popcorn!
An Activity for Outside the Home
Counting Cars. Any time you find yourself with time to kill, count the cars going by. (Great counting practice!) Label them: blue car, red truck, gray car, delivery truck, and so on. (Great for building vocabulary and the idea of categories!)
Sponge Printed Trains: Use sponges to print colorful rectangles for train cars, then use a black dot marker for the wheels. See on Buggy and Buddy.
Songs to Sing about Transportation
The Wheels on the Bus. https://kcls.org/content/wheels-on-the-bus/
(Also, search on YouTube for lots of fun videos of this song!)
The wheels on the bus go round and round, Round and round, round and round,
The wheels on the bus go round and round, All through the town.
Down by the Station https://kcls.org/content/down-by-the-station/
Down by the station early in the morning. See the little puffer bellies all in a row.
See the engine driver, pull his little lever. Puff puff! Toot toot! Off we go!
Drive the Fire Truck. https://kcls.org/content/hurry-hurry-drive-the-fire-truck/
Hurry, hurry! Drive the fire truck! Hurry, hurry! Drive the fire truck!
Hurry, hurry! Drive the fire truck! Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!
Motorboat, Motorboat go so slow (set your child in front of you, their feet against yours… hold their hands, and rock back and forth as you sing)
Motorboat, Motorboat go so fast (rock faster!)
Motorboat, Motorboat step on the gas! (go really fast!)
(Repeat, but this time, end it with “run out of gas” and putter to a stop.)
Games to Play / Circle Time Activities
Motorboat Activity: Do the song above, but have them walk when you say slow, jog when you say fast, run when you say step on the gas, and fall down on run out of gas.
Train rhyme: I’m a choo-choo train; (walk in circle)
Chugging down the track. (rhythmically move arms)
First I go forward, Then I go back.
Now my bell is ringing, (pretend to pull bell)
Hear my whistle blow. (cup hand to ear)
What a lot of noise I make (cover ears)
Everywhere I go!
Red Light, Green Light. When you say green light, they can walk. When you say red light, they need to stop. (Advanced version: when you say yellow light, they can keep walking, but need to slow down.) This is a fun game, but also great safety training. When your child is headed out into the street, you say “red light” and they know to stop!
Bulldoze the Beans: Add toy bulldozers to a bin of beans.
Car Wash: A tub of soapy water and some toy cars is lots of fun.
Books to Read
Freight Train by Donald Crews. Teaches colors and names of train cars.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. by Mo Willems. Very silly. Best for 3 years and up.
More ideas (and source citations) at: www.pinterest.com/bcparented and https://gooddayswithkids.com/songs-and-activities/fun-with-toddlers/
Check out this article on: “Obsessions with trucks, trains, or cars make kids smarter.”