Montessori-inspired hands-on activities with vehicles. How to make the most out of the toys

Hi, thanks for stopping by! I am here to share with you some ideas for activities with vehicles. These are many children's favourite toys, and today I want to prove that used in educational activities, they will provide fantastic hands-on, learning through play experience. 
I categorized the activities into three groups: beginner-friendly, intermediate and advanced. Now, this is only to guide you, all kids develop slightly differently, so please do not feel bad if your kid didn't master one of the skills mentioned yet. 
All of the activities are very engaging, most of them are hands-on and Montessori-inspired (presented slightly differently than the standard on the tray Montessori way, though).
I hope you enjoy reading and try some of these activities out 😊


When you realise that your baby is excited any time they see a particular vehicle, follow their lead and teach them the name of that vehicle, and the sound it makes. And then, obviously, you can expose your child to even more words, name what the vehicle does, or how it looks like. When your child is really interested in something, they are in a flow state, and absorb all the information you give them. Since they are fully involved and focused, they enjoy the learning process.
The classic Montessori 3-part cards can be very helpful here, but you can also use a book about vehicles to teach your child the names and sounds. If the photos (and, if possible, seeing the vehicle in real life) are paired with a model, it gives your child a better sensory experience (sight/ hearing /touch).

For a baby or a young toddler, knowing common words such as 'wheel' or 'steering wheel' means a lot. Every new word is a massive confidence-booster, and it helps the child to develop their interests. 

So this is the activity where a parent/ career can be creative. The sensory play is crucial for the child's development because we experience and learn through our senses, so it is essential to stimulate them.  
Setting up a sensory bin is easy. All you need is a fairly large container (a plastic box/ a pan/ a shoe box / a bowl), some filling (you can use paper shreds, water beads, sand, kinetic sand etc.) and vehicles. You can obviously add some other items if you wish. If you provide your child with a spoon, they can also practice scooping and transferring the vehicles to a different container. A pair of tweezers or tongs will be fantastic, it will help to develop their fine motor skills. 
If you don't have any of these tools, do not worry. Your child will have so much fun anyway.
The ideas for sensory bins are endless, and because you use the items you already have at home, they are zero cost! 

Vehicle rescue is a fun activity that strenghtens child's hands and encourages critical thinking. Here, I decided to tape the vehicles down to a piece of paper using some washitape. The child needs to 'rescue' all the vehicles by peeling the washitape away.

To set up a zero-waste version of the rescue activity, put the vehicles into the socks. The child will have so much fun getting them out. 

This simple activity supports the development of sorting skill as well as colour knowledge. To set it up, I used a few pieces of colour paper that I laid out on a table (if you have paper plates or bowls in many colours they will be perfect too), and vehicles on a small tray.
The child sorts the vehicles by placing them on the colour matching piece of paper.
Your child can sort only vehicles, or you can toss in some more objects if you wish. 

Transferring object with tongs not only strengthens hand muscles, supports the development of hand-eye coordination, but also teaches concentration and patience.
The child needs to transfer vehicles from one bowl/tray/basket to another, using tongs. 

Matching is one of the basic math skills, so it is important to practise it. This activity is easy to set up, all you need are some photos of vehicles and their matching models. You can either use vehicle-themed 3 parts Montessori cards or go with any picture book.
In this activity, the child matches the model of the vehicle to the vehicle on the photo. 

All you need for the shadow play is a dark room, a torch, and some vehicles. You can start by encouraging your child to guess what vehicle the shadows belong to, and then make a shadow play theatre. It is entertaining not only for kids but also for the parents 😊


Kids are usually beyond excited when they start to understand the concept of counting.
And here, again, the ways to play are endless. For the activity shown in a photo, I prepared some little wooden plates with numbers and vehicles. My son placed the correct amount of vehicles next to the corresponding number. 

Understanding patterns is an important skill for mathematical operations, logic and critical thinking. 
Your patterns can be as simple, or as difficult as you want. If you don't have many vehicles for the activity, toss in some random items you find at home. Teaspoons, building blocks, clothespins. Anything! 
In this activity, your child finishes the pattern you presented. 

In this activity, the child sorts the vehicles according to their types. You can use any types of vehicles you wish/ have models of. 

In this activity, the child sorts the vehicles into three groups: land transportation, water transportation and air transportation.

In this activity child orders the ve
hicles from the smallest to the biggest. I would suggest starting with 3 very size-wise distinctive models, to make it easier for the child to understand the concept of ordering. 

To set up this activity, you will need playdough and some vehicles (different types and sizes would be great). After you roll out the playdough, make some prints of the vehicles on it, and ask your child to match the vehicles to the correct prints. 

This activity will help your child to learn the shapes. All they need to do is to place the vehicles on the outlines of the particular shape.

Now, this is a fun one! It is as simple to prep as it sounds. All you need are some vehicles and a scarf. The child needs to recognize the vehicle he holds in his hands while blindfolded. 

I remember playing this memory game in kindergarten. It is very easy to set up, yet so effective. All you need to do is to choose a few vehicles (you can, of course, add some other items), put them on a tray or a table, and let your child explore them. Give them 1-2 minutes for exploration, then ask them to close their eyes (or turn around), meanwhile, you remove one of the vehicles, and hide it somewhere. Your child needs to guess which one is gone. Have fun!

The wheels or a steering wheel are pretty simple words that most of the toddlers will learn pretty early. As we all know, however, the vehicles consist of hundreds of parts. So if your child is really into diggers, for example, you can encourage them to learn more parts of it, and therefore expand their vocabulary. - what material are they made of (plastic,metal, wood etc.)

This is a popular activity in Montessori schools and pre-schools, but here I decided to make it vehicle-themed only. To set it up, I prepared a few vehicles (plastic, wooden and metal ones) and a magnetic wand. The child groups the vehicles accordingly.

In this activity, the child sorts the vehicles by the materials they are made of.

In this activity, the child sorts the vehicles by the brands. You can make this activity as simple or as difficult as you want, all depends on how advanced your child is. 

This can be an outdoor, or indoor activity, and it is the easiest one to set up. All you need is a little bit of sunshine (luxury goods, I know), a vehicle, a piece of paper and a pen/pencil/crayon/colouring pen/ or a marker. The child traces the shadow of the vehicle with a pen. 

In this activity, the child orders the vehicles from the lightest to the heaviest or the heaviest to the lightest. It is a fun introduction to the concept of weight. 

Hot and cold is a fun and educational game, which requires 2 or more players and some small objects, here I used vehicles. The rules of the game are very simple: one person leaves the room, and the rest of the group decides where to hide the vehicle. Then the chosen person comes back to the room and needs to find it. The group helps him by indicating whether he is getting closer or moving away from the hidden item by saying 'hotter' and 'colder'. 

In this activity, the child needs to guess why some particular vehicles belong to one group. The cool thing about it is that you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want. Some ideas may include flying vehicles, rescue vehicles or red vehicles. 

I strongly believe that teaching your child phonics (or the alphabet) and counting makes sense only once they show interest in them. Otherwise, if introduced too early, it may put them off slightly.
Vehicles are just perfect for teaching phonics (or the alphabet). The tiny ones would fit perfectly to a phonics (or alphabet) box. They are encouraging and fun. 

No matter if your child wants to draw, paint or sculpt, the vehicles can become fantastic 'models' for them. It is not only a fun activity but also a way to relax, communicate emotions and feelings, practise fine motor skills and boost creativity. 

Please let me know if you tried any of these activities out. I love nurturing children's inborn appetite for knowledge, and I truly believe that the best way to learn is through play.

For more ideas on how to make the most out of the toys, please check out my other posts
- 'How to make the most use out of the toys', for an introduction to the topic and a bunch of practical tips,
- 'The ultimate guide to activities with animal figurines' and part II of the guide, for 48 ideas on how to make the most out of the animal figurines,
- 'The importance and benefits of loose parts play' for ideas on how to use loose parts (like pebbles/pine cones etc.) in play.

Thank you for your time! 
Gosia x


What is on our Montessori-inspired shelves: counting and number recognition activities

Hello, thanks for stopping by! I am here today to share with you the activities that I set up for my 3-years old son to support his interest in counting. 

Before I begin, I want to say a few things:
  • teaching children number recognition and counting makes sense only once they have shown an interest in them, there is no need to force toddlers to master those skills,
  • I prepared most of these activities a while ago when I was testing out a laminating machine, which was playing up and I finally needed to return it. That's why there is so much plastic in here. 

I hope you enjoy reading and try some of these activities out 🙂

On the first shelf, I have 2 activities. The first one is ten 2-piece puzzles from North Parade Publishing Ltd. (I found them in TKMaxx). The child simply counts the items on one half of a puzzle and matches it to the corresponding number on the other half. What is important, only the correct pieces will fit together, so this is a fully self-correcting activity. This means that the child will be able to complete and correct it without the help of a parent. 
These particular puzzles aren't available anywhere at the moment, but you can find plenty of alternatives these days. I always see similar sets in TKMaxx, and in every other charity shop I go to. 

These are Montessori-inspired sandpaper numbers, that I made a while ago using some scrap paper, sandpaper, glue and cardboard. I invite my son to repeat the names of the numbers as well as to trace each number with his finger two to three times. This is a fantastic learning material, so I would advise everyone to either buy the original Montessori sandpaper numbers or to DIY them. 

On the second shelf, I have a simple activity that helps with both counting and number recognition. I have made these counting cards using stamps, but if you don't have stamps, you can draw little pictures on a paper or print the ready cards out (there are plenty of them available for free online). 
In this activity, the child counts the pictures on the card and matches the correct number to it (I used some magnetic numbers, but you can use anything you want/ have).
As you can see, these aren't the prettiest cards in the world, but I like to make the most out of everything I own (hence the stamps). 

On the third shelf, we have a Montessori Hundred Board, which is a wooden board divided into 100 squares, and it comes with 100 number tiles and a control chart. 
It is a perfect material for teaching children number recognition and counting and helps them understand number order. Obviously, there is so much more you can do with it, for example, skip counting.
At the moment Kian practices placing numbers 1-10 in order. 
I bought this board off of eBay, so it is a slightly smaller version to the original Montessori boards, but it works perfectly fine for us, at home. 

On the fourth shelf, I have a simple number recognition matching activity, made using old bottle caps and a bottom piece of an upcycled sweets box. Of course, you don't need the exact piece of plastic for this activity, instead, you can use a plate, a paper plate, or even a piece of paper that you will write numbers on. The idea of this activity is for the child to match the numbers on the bottle caps to the numbers on the 'board'. 
To make it more challenging, you can ask the child to transfer the caps using tongs or handy scoopers, but I decided to stick to the simple matching activity here. 

Fun fact- the top part of this sweets box was used to make my waterfall diorama last year. You can find the step-by-step tutorial to it here

I found these puzzles in a charity shop a while ago, and they came without a box or even a stamp with a brand name on it, so, unfortunately, I don't know where they are from. Google isn't helping either here. I love them, however, because they are sort of two in one puzzle. Kian really enjoys the finger-counting feature here, so he normally counts the animals, then matches the corresponding number to the result he got, places the puzzle in the sloth, and then shows the number with his fingers. 

All in all, a well invested £1.99.

Another super simple activity here, it helps with counting, number recognition and fine motor skills. The child reads the number on the card and transfers on it a correct amount of blocks using tongs provided. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and please let me know what type of activities would you like me to prepare next.
Thank you for your time!

Gosia x


Hello! I am here today to share with you some ideas on how you can make the most out of the toys your child already owns. It will save you money, time and stress because we all know that clutter is overwhelming. 

To start, I would suggest observing your child for a few days, to check what they actually play with and what type of toys they are mostly drawn to. Also, which toys they never, ever use.
If you have a lot going on in your life, and loads of things to remember about, I would suggest making a list of often used and never used toys, it will make the next steps much easier for you. 

Once the list is ready, you can re-organize your child's play space. Decluttering is fantastic! Most of the children don't play with their toys because they simply have too many of them. Of course, this step is optional.
Next, you can divide the toys that you're keeping into two groups, and hide one of them away. Then you swap the toys every week/ two weeks, or how often you wish. This method is great because it is fully customizable to your child's needs, and your schedule.
Rotating toys has many benefits, one of them is that your child never gets bored with their toys, and they feel that they are getting new toys frequently, which makes them want less brand new toys. This will also allow you to have less clutter in the toy storage system, which means less mess, and less cleaning. Less cluttered play space (no matter how big or small it is) encourages the independence in the child, because they can not only easily access all of the toys, but also clean them up after play


Lego Duplo/ building blocks
Building blocks are one of the most important types of toys to have in one's collection. They teach the child about geometry, gravity, they encourage creative thinking and problem-solving. Honestly, their benefits are endless. But there is so much more your child can do with them than just building. 
With their help, you can teach your child colours, counting, matching, sorting, patterns and many, many more. 

Animal figurines
Animal figurines are many children's favourite toys. They are, however, pretty expensive, so it is worth to make the most out of them.
I came up with 48 fun and educational activities with animal figurines, and you can find the first part of my guide here, and the second one here. These activities are suitable for babies, toddlers and younger children. 

The ball
The ball is the queen of open-ended toys. It is affordable, and if we were to count the cost per use of toys, the ball would probably win. It not only beautifully supports the development of your child's gross motor skills but also, thanks to its simplicity, can be easily incorporated in other types of activities. 
A small ball can become a pretend food or an animal, and if you have a few of them at home, you can build an interactive solar system for your child or introduce them to the concept of ordering by size or weight. You can use them for making patterns, colour matching and colour sorting, or shape sorting.

Toy vehicles can be used in many ways, too! The child can sort them by colour, by type, by brand. Put them all in lines, do patterns, practice counting, addition, subtraction. Learn hundreds of new words when learning the parts of the vehicle. Practice ordering by size (or tell which one is bigger, which one is smaller etc.). Learn the brands. Endless possibilities here. 

A few tips on purchasing toys:
  • follow your child. Each child has his interests, so it is fantastic if we follow them when buying toys. Then we are almost 100% sure that our child will play with what we bought. It saves frustration (for parents and kids), money (obviously), and space (because the storage always comes with capacity limits 😉),
  • if you want to save some money on toys, you can invest in second-hand items. You can find them online (eBay, Gumtree, Facebook market place etc.), in charity shops/ thrift stores and car boot sales,
  • buy less, but better quality. Minimalism in toys has more benefits for the child's development than an abundance of toys. If you choose wooden toys over plastic, they will last much, much longer. I know that wooden toys tend to be pricier, but I found almost all the pieces my son owns second-hand, and I paid less than I would for plastic toys,
  • invest in open-ended toys and loose part materials. Thanks to the simple design, they can be used in infinite ways, so they will never be too boring for your child. You buy (find in the garden/upcycle) once, and they last for a few years. If you have never heard of the idea of the loose parts play before and you would like to learn more, you can check out my article on the topic here

I hope you found some inspiration here, and please let me know what do you do to make the most out of toys your child owns. 

Thank you for your time,
Gosia x

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