If you can forget how painful it is to step on a tiny toy vehicle, you might find yourself smiling at the "vroom-vroom" sounds coming from your preschooler as he races his cars and trucks through the house. Driving vehicles and trucks is highly entertaining to most preschoolers, but it also builds gross and fine motor skills. Don't miss out on the fun. Get down on the floor and enjoy playing alongside your little racer.
1. Make a Race Track
Give your preschooler a large piece of white paper and some crayons. Show her how to draw roads on the paper using a black crayon. Draw lanes with a yellow crayon. Encourage your little one to decorate the scene with trees, stop signs and buildings. Dinosaurs and castles work, too, if she loves to pretend. Have your preschooler choose her favorite trucks and vehicles and go driving. Grab your own toy car and drive with her. (Making sound effects is optional.)
2. Go Off Road
Take your little race car driver's vehicles off road. Pack up a few of his favorites and head to a sandbox or dirt patch. Show him how to drive his vehicles through the rough terrain. Build hills and valleys for him to drive through. Bring along some toilet paper tubes or small scraps of wood so your preschooler can drive his cars off ramps and through tunnels. Don't require him to stay in the sandbox or dirt patch. If he'd rather drive through the grass, go ahead and let him. These driving activities all promote physical activity and develop his motor skills.
Challenge your kiddo to a race. Ask your child to choose her favorite racing vehicle, and then make your choice. Line the cars up on the kitchen floor, give the countdown and then push your cars as hard as you can. Remind your child not to throw them. It's tempting to just launch the car across the room, but many a window has been broken this way, which will ruin all the fun. You don't have to keep track of who wins, but keep encouraging your preschooler so she doesn't get discouraged. Let her pick a new car to keep her motivated. All that pushing helps build the muscles in her arms and chest.
If you're up for a messy activity, use your child's toy cars to make a masterpiece. Place a piece of white paper in the lid of a cardboard box. Squirt a few blobs of finger paint onto the paper and have your child put a car in one of the blobs. Show him how to tilt the box around so the car drives through the paint and leaves tire tracks on the paper. You may need to thin the paint a little. Use more than one color if you want, but make sure the paints are washable so you don't have a bigger mess than you bargained for. Let the paintings dry and then hang them up somewhere in your home. Rinse the cars, too, or they might not drive very well when your child wants to play with them again.
- A Practical Guide to Activities for Young Children; Christine Hobart, Jill Frankel
- Education.com: Promoting Fine Motor Development
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images