Making our own little town to drive around, something compact to easily fold away, is a perfect companion for one of our favorite books, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. There is so much to enjoy on every page of that book. My oldest child’s first imaginary friend was “Goldbug,” the little creature who hides out on every page. Although we don’t have a “carrot car” in our fold-away vehicle town, there are plenty of places to go because the roads and vehicles are the focus.
Vehicle Town Busy Bag
I made our Vehicle Town a magnet play activity. I put some roads together with some houses and buildings into a special little town. It’s two pages, and after laminating they easily fold together. I put these on our magnet board (I also could use my cheap baking sheet I have for just this purpose) and we are set to go.
Then I printed the vehicles on cardstock, glued them to a piece of foam, and cut them out with a straight Ex-acto knife when the glue was dry. Some sturdy tape keeps the magnet in place on the reverse. Although I could easily pull the magnet off and reuse them on a different game, I’m surprised by how well they stay on the foam vehicles while playing! I may just keep them in this set, because it sure is fun!
Playing with the Vehicle Town
You could also simply keep the vehicles with the roads without worrying about the magnet board or the magnets: I love how the magnets follow along the road and keep the many vehicles in place!
My preschooler enjoyed being silly by putting the airplane on the roads (instead of the airport) and the boats wanted to go on the roads too. She loves ambulances and fire trucks, so those prompted some fun and noisy minutes of “rescuing” other cars from the fire. I love hearing her little voices as she has the vehicles “talk” to one another. In all, I’d say it was a success!
Even my older kids don’t mind playing with an imagination toy like this. They insisted on playing for a little while before breakfast. Sounds good to me! I love how the pages simply folded together into my storage envelope.
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go Vehicle Town Extension Activity
We love Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry because it is simply silly. With “pickle cars” and “toothbrush cars” and so forth, it is a perfect preschool-level book due to its silliness.
As a free download for you, I’ve also created a “Does It Go?” sort page with silly things like a banana, a window, and a bucket in addition to a car, a bike, and a little red wagon. Now my littlest one can sort out the real versus the not real vehicles after she reads the Cars and Trucks book.
Get a copy of the the vehicle sort template by clicking this image below! I’ve included the sort in both color and black and white.
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Putting Together a Vehicle Busy Box
I love using busy boxes to keep little ones busy on their own. While I am teaching a class, another parent supervised my daughter at play. I sent along the town template and the other items in the included product:
- matching vehicle cards
- "Does it Go?" silly matching activity
- train number cars to put in order
- Vehicle-themed coloring pages and crayons
To coordinate, I also sent some of these activities in her workbox today:
- Cars and trains stickers
- A train puzzle
- A roll of masking tape and some Matchbox cars for making roads on the floor and driving on them with the matchbox cars
In all, our vehicle busy box was fun and easy to pull together.
Get the Vehicle Town Busy Bag
Put together a busy bag for your preschooler with this set of activities. Print out the town on paper or reversed onto fabric transfer paper for your child to play independently, then let them play a matching game, do the silly vehicle sort, put the numbers 1-10 in order on the train, and color the 5 vehicle scenes.
Sensory Vehicle Activities
On a different occasion, I shared these busy box activities, as well as a more hands-on vehicle sort, with others in a preschool storytime group. Note that I do not suggest these activities for a young one to use on her own; supervision should be given. It is a bit messy and water beads are dangerous if ingested.
I call these my vehicle sensory boxes, because kids can dig their hands in to play with vehicles in a hands-on way! I love the Toob Toys, and enjoy these vehicle ones (even if the wheels don't turn!)
Materials Needed for Sensory Vehicle Boxes
To use the sensory boxes as I did, you would need the following items. Amazon (affiliate) links provided for your convenience.
- three small plastic tubs
- kinetic sand
- water beads (IMPORTANT! Use caution around young children: water beads can be deadly for toddlers and babies if ingested. You could substitute with water, if you don't mind a wet mess, but note that the Toob toys will not float.)
- cotton balls
- On the Road Toob toys set (alternatively, matchbox cars, but they will get messy)
- In the Water Toob toys set
- In the Air Toob toys set
Instead of providing the Toob toys, you could use laminated versions of the vehicles provided in the Vehicle Town product as well.
Playing with the Sensory Vehicle Boxes
As you can probably tell, the sensory boxes represent the three types of vehicles discussed: land vehicles for the kinetic sand, water vehicles for the water beads, and cotton balls to represent. With these fun boxes set up, kids can sort the vehicles in to the proper boxes. Put towels or plastic down to keep tables clean!
This post originally appeared in 2014 and has been edited.