Whether you got your start on an old-fashioned red metal tricycle or a neon-colored plastic Big Wheel, you probably remember the excitement you felt getting your first trike. Your preschooler is no different: that "I'm a big kid now" feeling that comes with pedaling and steering your own vehicle is still a special rite of passage. Start your preschooler off with the rules: always wear her helmet, stay on the sidewalk and make sure a grown-up is watching. Then help her hone her cycling skills with some fun outdoor games and activities.
1. Tricycle Safety
Organize a trike safety rodeo to teach your preschooler and her friends about cycling safety. Use sidewalk chalk and cardboard mock-ups of road signs or stoplights to create a mini-obstacle course for your tricycle riders. Tell them to ride through the course, stopping at stop signs or red lights, crossing streets only at crosswalks and watching for obstacles like pets, cars or people walking on the sidewalks. Give them a sticker or other small reward for each step of the course they complete successfully without reminders. Invite a public safety officer to talk to the children about wearing helmets and provide a helmet fitting check. Give each preschooler a certificate for completing the safety rodeo.
2. Trikes on Parade
Pick a neighborhood street with little traffic to hold your parade, or ask to use a church or school parking lot. Help your preschooler and her friends decorate their tricycles with streamers, flags and pinwheels. Let a few of them attach small wagons to their trikes to pull their dolls or stuffed animals in the parade. Ask the kids' parents, siblings and neighbors to come outside, line the parade route, and cheer and clap as the kids go by. Play music, blow horns and ring tricycle bells as the kids pass by. Be sure to take pictures of their parade for them to enjoy later.
3. The Race is On
Set up simple relay routes for the kids to compete in tricycle races. Do straight speed races at varying distances. Divide them into four-man teams to perform a team relay competition. Use empty plastic milk jugs or traffic cones to set up a slalom-style race course. The winner is the tricycle rider who hits the fewest cones. Reward the winners with stickers or small toy medals to wear.
4. Clean Wheels
For most preschoolers, few things are as fun as getting to play with water and bubbles, particularly on a hot summer day. Create a tricycle car wash in your driveway. Set up "centers," where kids complete a different step in the washing process. First, they go through the "rinse" stage, where they can spray some water on their tricycles. Next is the washing center, at which the preschoolers can clean their trikes with sponges and buckets of sudsy water. Then they go through the rinse center again, finishing up at a drying center complete with towels.