We all know kids love tractors, trucks, tyres and will shout ‘DIGGER!’ as you drive past a building site.
Children’s obsession with vehicles has come down through generations with ‘Wheels on the Bus’ an all time favourite nursery rhyme, siblings named after Thomas the Tank Engine characters (true story!), and miniature cars and farm story books as treasured hand-me-downs.
So, why do children love vehicles so much? According to Crystal Paschal, early childhood educator and founder of Feminist Books for Kids ‘they are real machines that do the work of superheroes. Diggers, bulldozers and cranes stimulate [kids] imaginations and allow them to picture themselves controlling something big and powerful.’ Farm machines become knights charging into battle!
Children’s sensorimotor stage of development takes shape between 0-2. Music Therapist and early childhood development specialist, Aylssa Wilkins, explains that children learn by ‘absorbing everything through their senses…toys and real-life objects like cars are very sensorily engaging. Kids can interact with toy cars, trucks etc. through spinning their wheels, watching them move in a variety of directions, or hearing the sounds they make.’ Objects making loud noises, flashing and moving engage children’s brains and sensory systems. Therefore, an engine revving, police sirens blaring, and diggers digging are appealing and captivate young children.
Claire Gillespie writing for The Week reports that ‘a car is also a cause-and-effect toy – it teaches children that their actions can make something happen.’ Professional counsellor Roseann Capanna-Hodge, EdD has found that for children ‘the toy car is an inexpensive, accessible toy that promotes learning, environmental exploration, independence, motor skills, problem solving, and creativity.’ What a list! No wonder vehicular toys are so popular.
Utrecht University child psychologist, Professor Jeffery Goldstein, illuminates more physical and mental benefits as well as the fundamental importance of children learning through play. Goldstein describes how ‘there is no other activity that develops their language, spatial awareness, social and communication skills and physical abilities in such a prolonged way.’
You know when you have a vehicle fanatic in your family! My nephew’s favourite game is naming all agricultural and farming vehicles he sees – even ones I wouldn’t have a clue about and can spend hours watching videos of tractors, combines and diggers completing commonplace, day-to-day tasks; just enjoying the sensory engagement.
Some of our own favourite moving vehicles stories at eatsleepdoodle:
‘My son was obsessed with trains when he was growing up, especially Thomas the Tank Engine: watching it on the television, playing with toy trains and creating tracks for them. His favourite train was Edward the red engine and when he heard he was having a baby brother, he wanted to name him ‘Edward’. Which became the baby’s second name!’
Land Rover Adventures
‘My brother watched farm machinery obsessively and always wanted to drive our dad’s Land Rover. Our grandfather hand built him his very own, fully driveable Land Rover with a personalised number plate! We loved driving up and down all the tracks at our family’s farm.’
Driving to Africa!
‘My granddaughter loves playing with an old toy garage and lining up the cars to go through the car wash. She also loves sitting in my Land Rover and beeping the horn loudly and shouting that she is ‘driving to Africa!’
Waiting for the Reliable Rumble
‘From even before he could speak, Rowan expressed delight and childlike awe for farm machines of all shapes and sizes from tractors to sprayers and haymakers to bale wrappers. He spends hours sitting at the top of our garden, watching and waiting for the steady, reliable rumble. A few times we were able to climb into the cab of the combines and although he was scared at first, once he was in, he didn’t want to get out!’
Crazy for Cranes!
‘A giant crane caught the imagination on my twin sons and their daily treat was to watch it constructing a building near our house and waving to the very patient operator high above them.’
Such an appealing subject – and so much fun, and with so much fascinating information for kids to learn. From farming to emergency services, trucks to sports cars, buses and cranes; we’ve added a really varied range of stimuli, so no matter what their obsessing over right now – they’ll enjoy colouring, dreaming and learning. There's also a red and blue grid print for children to have fun designing their own vehicles on the reverse and they can learn more about all of the things they're colouring on our dedicated online learning resource page.
Our working wheels pillowcase means kids can drift off dreaming of trucks, tractors and tyres!