What Can Vehicle Miniatures Teach A Child?

What a child can learn from free play is immense. Even more interesting is the way you can tap into the cues & interests of your child & drive learning through these interests. The child will be interested & enthusiastic in such learning activities. Read on how & what my son learnt, and is still learning following his love for vehicles!
My son who is 18 months old right now, is super duper fond of vehicles of any kind. When I realized this craze months back, I started hunting for miniatures of various vehicles. I did not want to stick to the routine cars, moreover wanted to encash this craze & encourage some learning. 

I finally bought a lot of vehicle miniatures like truck, bus, tempo, auto, bike, scooter, train, engine, fire engine, ambulance, boat, aeroplane, helicopter, tractor and some construction vehicles like dumper truck, digger, mobile crane, cement mixer truck, bulldozer, road roller and what not. This was not a one day purchase obviously. Whenever I found a deal somewhere, online or local market, I hoarded this stuff. Also, I did not give him all the vehicles in one go. It is overwhelming for the child. I looked for his cues, for example, there were days he got super excited seeing an auto. So I gave him the auto miniature & he would play with it endlessly, even sleep holding it. It was so amazing to see him so engaged with that little auto. Same happened for tempo (goods carrier in India), bus, truck etc.

There is a construction going on just in front of our place, so he used to stand at the balcony & watch those construction vehicles work with great interest. That was the time I pulled out his construction toy vehicles from the almirah & gave him to play! He would hold the cement mixer in one hand & watch the real cement mixer work on the construction site for long.

“Play is child’s work.” ~ Maria Montessori


I did not know how enriching it is to play with these miniatures before I actually saw my son playing with them! I am sharing how his love for vehicles facilitated in so much learning for him, I am sure I have missed a lot more points to enumerate but nevertheless!

  • Gross Motor Skills – See his large muscles at work while making a vehicle move. By the way, I made this maroon & yellow parking lot with a ramp for him from an old Flipkart box. All his vehicles were being dumped in a box, they certainly needed a better home 😉 
  • Fine Motor Skills while holding & manipulating the vehicles
  • Vocabulary Building – Learning about names of vehicles & parts of the vehicles in a hands-on way like wheels, headlights, tail & wings of an aeroplane, blades of a helicopter etc. In the picture below, I was having my lunch & he wanted my attention. So I asked him to get me one vehicle at a time from another room. I asked him, “please get me the dumper truck”, and he would get me the dumper truck. So this huge collection you see below, he brought to me rightly according to the vehicle’s name. This was at around 15 months if I remember correctly. In another picture below, he is trying to tell me where are the wings, jet engine & tail of an aeroplane
  • Counting the wheels in a 2 wheeler, 3 wheeler & 4 wheeler. 
  • Learning Shapes – wheel is a circle, window is a rectangle, so on & so forth
  • Enhancing Imagination & Making Connections – My son would play for 15 minutes at a stretch with his vehicles (which is a LOT of time considering the super short attention span of babies & toddlers). I am sure in his mind he is doing some kind of imagination & role play. Once he starts talking more, I may get to know what went in his mind while playing with his vehicles all this while. Moreover, seeing a real world vehicle & a toy vehicle side by side helps a child to make connections in his brain, helps to make one to one correspondence, which is a pre-math skill.
  • Related Book Reading – I invested in books that were based on vehicles, picture books, story books, sound books, lift the flap books & books of all kinds. He already loves reading books. And books with his favourite vehicles, all the more interested! He matches his toy vehicles with the pictures in the books every now & then. By reading books, he also gets to know more details about how these vehicles work. He LOVES these vehicle-based books! Sharing just a few of them that I already had pics of (along with other non-vehicle titles too). There are a whole bunch of more of such books inside!
  • Visual Discrimination – Based on his interest, I made some DIY activities for him to take his interest on a different level & he LOVED them too! These are some color, shape & vehicle matching activities that he started doing successfully from 15 months onwards.

Printable courtesy – Welcome To Mommyhood
  • Peeling Off Stickers – I got him puffy foam stickers of cars to peel off. Using stickers is a very good fine motor skill. He loved playing with them too! This sticker sheet had logos of some car brands & he would ask again & again what they are. I told him these are logos & he could remember the names & pointed to the right logo when I asked! This further gave way to learning of logos. We used to go to our society garden every evening & he would point each & every car & ask for the logo name. Now he recognizes some 7-8 logos on paper & on the vehicles on the road too. While in the car, he starts shouting Tata Tata after seeing a Tata bus on the road!
  • Perceiving Finer Sounds – My son now knows what sounds some vehicles like aeroplane, fighter plane, train, tempo, truck, car reverse horn etc make. In the middle of anything, when he is playing or reading or roaming around, whenever he hears these sounds (amidst all the noise, believe me!), he stops for a moment, points his fingers to the direction of the sound, says car or whatever is the name, if he can utter that word, smiles, does an eye to eye contact with me or his father, and goes back to his work again! Many times, we do not manage to hear the sound until he tells us to listen & acknowledge! 
  • Hands-On Learning & 3D to 2D Matching – Once a 3D object picture is stored successfully in children’s brain, it is very easy for them to relate to their 2D counterparts. If we teach vehicles just from the books, they would see a 2D view of it, and would not know how it looks from other angles. They will tend to store a limited view of that vehicle in their brain. We also did shadow matching activity of vehicles & to my surprise, he could do it very easily! Also, anything that anyone can actually experience (hands-on), rather than just read, goes into the long term memory. 
I will link up all the books, toys & puzzles we have related to vehicles in a separate post! For now, you can search them on Amazon & Flipkart.
I also wanted to share a beautiful vehicle set that I got as a gratitude gift from Creative Express because I reviewed their awesome concept calenders. These vehicles are sturdy enough & lovely to play with 🙂
Next, we plan to do 2 part, 3 part & eventually jigsaw puzzles based on vehicles! We will also do some vehicle painting and sorting of vehicles based on where they go – land, air & water. Later on we will attempt pre-writing work with small vehicles, like tracing the shapes or different kinds of lines using vehicles.
Do you have more suggestions as to how one can use vehicles? I would love to hear. I would also love to know what all activities you did with your child using vehicles 🙂 Do share in comments!

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