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 😊


BEGINNER-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

LEARNING THE NAMES OF THE VEHICLES AND THE SOUNDS THEY MAKE
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).


LEARNING BASIC PARTS OF VEHICLES
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. 

SENSORY PLAY
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 I
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.


VEHICLE RESCUE II
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. 


COLOUR SORTING
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 WITH TONGS
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 ACTIVITY
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. 



THE SHADOW PLAY
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 😊




INTERMEDIATE ACTIVITIES:

























COUNTING ACTIVITIES
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. 


PATTERING
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. 


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


SORTING- AIR/ WATER/ LAND TRANSPORTATION 
In this activity, the child sorts the vehicles into three groups: land transportation, water transportation and air transportation.


ORDERING BY SIZE
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. 


PLAYDOUGH PUZZLE
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. 


FOLLOW THE SHAPES WITH VEHICLES
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.


RECOGNIZING VEHICLES BLINDFOLDED
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. 


A SIMPLE MEMORY GAME
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!


ADVANCED ACTIVITIES
LEARNING THE ADVANCED VEHICLE PARTS
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.)

SORTING MAGNETIC VS NON-MAGNETIC VEHICLES
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.


SORTING VEHICLES BY THEIR MATERIAL
In this activity, the child sorts the vehicles by the materials they are made of.


SORTING VEHICLES BY THEIR BRANDS
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. 


TRACING THE SHADOW
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. 



ORDERING BY WEIGHT
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. 



THE HOT AND COLD GAME
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'. 



GUESSING THE SORT
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. 


LEARNING THE PHONICS (LETTERS)
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. 



DRAWING/ PAINTING THE VEHICLES
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

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18 comments

  1. Some great ideas here, loving the vehicle rescue idea

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  2. I don't have children but I have friends who do and they'd love these tips. I'll be sharing their way :)

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  3. These are some great ideas for activities - you are always so creative with your activity ideas. I will definitely give some of these a go!

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    Replies
    1. Aww thank you for such a sweet comment! Happy New Year, Rebecca x

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  4. All 3 of mine used to love playing with cars and planes, some great ideas for different types of play x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Samantha <3

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  5. So many great ideas, I wish I had thoguht of some of these when my kids were small. The rescue activities are my favourites. Mich x

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