Stuck With Trucks: Top 5 ways to use kids’ fascination with transportation as a road to learning

by Alenka

I have three boys.  My home reminds more of a garage, then a house: we have some toy trucks and cars by the bed; we have some bulldozers in the basement; we have some cranes in a playroom; we have LOTS of cars in a chest bean; we have a cement mixer in a bathroom; we have a train nailed to the wall.  If someone told me I’d be immersed in the world of transportation so deeply, I’d just laugh them in a face.  Yet, amidst all of those vehicles, I still manage to navigate.

“Follow your child’s interest. That’s the words of Maria Montessori.
“Can’t beat them – join them. Julius Caesar.  The same thing in this particular case.

So, buried in this world of wheels, I was trying to drive it in MY direction (before they drive me nuts).  I.e., make this voyage an educational one.

So, after we’ve read every possible book, fact, story about trucks, construction machines, and trains, we moved started using for other ways to get them to our learning destinations.

  1. Dump Truck Geography

Dump trucks are terrific for transporting things.  We’ve tried letters, numbers.  Our favorites were… you wouldn’t believe it: states.  Since my kids were 2 years old, we were loading state puzzle pieces and driving them with trucks to their locations on the map of the USA puzzle.  Unlike every other puzzle, by the age of 3, my kids could put that 50 piece puzzle with their eyes closed.  The sounds the puzzle made as our little trucks dumped each state piece on its’ place, added the excitement.


  1. Train-Math

Trains could do that too.

And a train puzzle that we have was very helpful as well.

But tracks… tracks are a perfect math tool!  We could line them up, we could count them, we could measure the lengths and identify measurements on our little roulette, we could load the toys into each part of the train by pattern: 1 in a first, 2 in a second, 3 in a third… Even numbers: 2 in a first, 4 in a second, every toy should have a partner… we could add and subtract: 4 toys in this station, 2 rode to that one, how many left?

Math is really fun when it is loaded in a cool train!


  1. Busasaurus

Buses are terrific for driving through history.  Who can take a ride? How about lining up different types of dinosaurs that live in he same time period at every bus station.  Carnivores can take a bus to the store to get some meat (lets hope they don’t eat the sweet toy saleslady :) , but our’s, luckily, were mostly well behaved).  Herbivores can take visit to the  grassy fields or forests for their favorite snack (if they promise not to destroy the house plants).

When diversifying the dinosaurs was losing its popularity, we evolved some people for our buses: the presidents! The Presidents flashcards were taking trips to various monuments that we positioned along the bus route, so we were getting to know both of them at the same time!


  1. Reading In a Recycling Truck

We are recycling every piece of junk mail that gets stuck in our mailbox.  We are recycling labels, old receipts, cereal boxes.  In this game our favorite large garbage truck was dubbed as a Recycling and loaded with letters, words, numbers… and whole words, as we got better.  We would cut up the junk-mail advertising into pieces, search for pictures that begin with a specific letter; attempt to read the familiar words; try out some sentences; sometimes attempt writing the word on top of a familiar looking object on a picture torn from a magazine; and… load them up into our truck after we read them!

  1. Plane-Biology

Planes are so convenient for going to distant places!  Besides obviously “flying over a map, they were assigned an important mission: bring various animals, sea creatures, plants to their respective habitats.  The planes would circle the globe quite a few times, as we were searching for the right biome, environment, possibly even a country for that creature to land to.


Beep-beep!  We are zooming off on our road to success!


  1. Mary Oliver

    One more way is to make a home video with the trucks. Just a smart phone camera, a couple of voices, write a scenario together. Then you get own cartoon to watch, a lot of fun even with old toys and good imagination training. Who knows, may be this can open new ‘Spielberg’ talents.