It’s common for kids to become attached to a certain toy, or a specific type of toys. Most of us have probably met at least one kiddo who seems obsessed with vehicles — getting excited to see full-scale vehicles on the street and ride in them, as well as to play extensively with toy models.
As adults, we might wonder whether children would enjoy mixing up their interests more. Many of us have said something along the lines of, “Taylor, you played with the trucks last week. Would you like to try playing with a lion or tiger this week?”
Parents and caretakers may even find themselves worrying that such repetitive play is doing little to help their children learn and grow. But, quite the contrary, playing with vehicles — for this example let’s use trucks — is more than just fun; it’s physically and cognitively beneficial, too.
Here are three areas in which playing with trucks can help kids develop important life skills.
Trucks Help Kids Explore the Transporting Schema
One reason a child may seem so hung up on playing with vehicles is because it’s very common to experience a transporting schema at some point. A schema is basically a mental construct through which young learners explore the world, and often manifests as repeated behavior in kiddos.
What is this transportation schema? Children may find themselves drawn toward carrying and moving items in containers. As one family resource and early years center notes, kids interested in the transporting schema may be fascinated with large vehicles that can transport big quantities of materials at once, like tractor-trailers, dump trucks and cement trucks. They may also express an interest in transporting goods themselves in baskets, bags, wagons and truck toys.
Trucks Encourage Imaginative Play
Kids playing with trucks can take many different forms. Outdoors, you can help the kiddos create a dirt track for their vehicles. In addition to creating roads out of natural materials found in a yard, Tinkergarten suggests using sticks and branches to make bridges. Then you can encourage the young learners to use their trucks to transport their materials along the course to build something like a squirrel house.
If the weather outside isn’t cooperating, kids can just as easily get involved with constructing a “city backdrop” for their trucks using furniture and materials found around the house.
The main takeaway to keep in mind is trucks can be a conduit for imaginative play in which kids conjure up different environments and scenarios. One day it can be a farm vehicle; the next, a delivery truck in a busy cityscape. The sky really is the limit on how children can incorporate their favorite vehicles into open-ended, creative games.
Children Can Practice Fine Motor Skills with Trucks
Around the ages of toddlerhood and preschool, kids are really developing their motor skills. This includes fine motor skills — or the movements associated with small muscles found in the wrists, hands and fingers — as well as gross motor skills, which involve the larger muscles in the body.
As Scholastic notes, the movements of dumping, filling and scooping with toy trucks help kids reinforce fine motor skills. There’s also a great opportunity for sensory play here, as kids interact with different-textured materials — whether they’re hauling dirt, rice, rocks, bouncy balls or other toys. As for gross motor skills, playing with trucks can easily become a whole-body activity as kids stand, sit, twist, reach, lift and crawl.
Playing with trucks is fun, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for kids to grow their minds and bodies. Encourage your little learner to think creatively and get moving, instead of writing this activity off as being repetitious.
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