Fairly certain my son had a car permanently attached to his hand from the time he could grasp toys until almost 3 years of age! For many young children toys with wheels are a huge fascination. There are LOTS of different kinds and so many accessories to go with them (garages, ramps, etc.)  Pretending with cars is very similar to pretending with dolls.

  • Pretend to feed a doll = put gas in the car (“guhguhguh” or other gas guzzling sound)
  • Pretend to bathe a doll = CAR WASH
  • Pretend a doll gets hurt = car crashes (“kaBOOM” or “crasssshhhh”)
  • Pretend a doll goes to bed = car “sleeps” in a garage (“night night”)

Some of my favorite types of cars are those where you can use toy people to drive them.  Then use family member names:  “Mommy drive”, “Daddy drive”, “go mommy,” “go daddy”, “bye bye Grandma”.  One of our favorite vehicle pretend play activities was “special delivery!”  Deliveries (think dump trucks, school buses, taxis or mail trucks)  are great for practicing taking items/people where they need to go, following directions, and categorizing e.g. take red objects to the red “house” (box) or red piece of paper.

My other favorite vehicle type: any that don’t make noise or require batteries!  Well, that might just be for my own sanity.  Inevitably, if you have a vehicle-lover in your house you may find some emergency vehicles with sirens and lights that start to appear and take over your house – oh wait, maybe that’s just my house.  Emergencies are also good for pretend play  – even if the sirens are a bit nonstop.

Don’t forget all of your favorite vehicle noises:  “beep beep”, “vroom vroom”, “crash”, “ready set go”, “honk honk”, “choo choo”, tire squeals, monster truck engines, sirens, airplanes taking off, helicopters flying, and engines revving.

Other ideas?

  1.  Make a ramp out of box lids “up, down, wheeeeee”.
  2.  Make a parking lot of out blocks “stop, go”.
  3.  Go outside or watch cars from a window. As the cars go by, point and make a car noise then wave “bye”. If it’s a less busy street you can count in between cars to heighten the anticipation or sing the question “where are you” while you wait.
  4.  Use colored duct tape to make a race track on a flattened cardboard box. “start…your…ENGINES…GO!”
  5.  Send Hot Wheels types of cars down empty paper towel rolls.  “woohoo”

Of course, all of these ideas could be adjusted for trains, planes, boats and other types of transportation.

Here are some toy ideas for vehicle play:

For some washable cars, these work well: Viking Little Chubbies Primary Set

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