transportation activities

Transportation Play Activities #3: Red, Yellow, Green Light Game

Usually we don’t have to encourage kids to move around and be active. For both moving and stopping, kids can play a Red, Yellow, Green Light game.

red yellow green light game for kidsThe rules of this game are very simple and easy to remember. They are like traffic lights. Red signals a stop, green means it’s okay to run around fast, and yellow is for going slow, just walking along. A big space like a backyard is great but it’s also possible to play this inside. Some houses have a hallway or other space where little kids can run but the green light time might need to be quite short.

Young kids may need a parent, caregiver, or an older child to call the color of the lights. If kids are old enough, they can play this game independently with friends. One person gets to call the color of the light and the other kids either stop, walk, or run.

Movement activities for kids are absolutely essential. They optimize the development of brains, not just muscles. Through physical stimulation and movement, millions of connections for thinking form in the brain.

This red, yellow, green light game adds another layer to play, combining movement and simple rules. Kids match their movement to the color of the traffic light. Even children that can barely talk know red lights mean stop and green means go.

red yellow green light game for kidsKids can include sound effects as they play and make screechy brake noises when they hear, “Red Light.” The “Green Light” call invites them to rev their motors and change gears as they run around. And if somebody is too slow for “Yellow Light” it’s okay to honk a horn. Keep some small pieces of paper handy to write a speeding ticket for kids that go too fast and don’t watch out for others.

Do you know what the traffic light said to the cars? “Don’t look. I’m changing.” Has your child played the red, yellow, green light game?

Transportation Activities #2: Toy Cars Help Categorizing Skills

Did you know cars and trucks can help kids develop categorizing skills? This is an important brain strategy for coping with lots of information.

helping kids learn to play with cars and trucks

Have you ever felt brain overload, especially at the end of the day or when trying to learn something new? Just think of all that’s new for a child to learn. No wonder kids get cranky. To deal with vast amounts of information the brain sorts it and categorizes it. Categorizing shrinks information into more brain-friendly chunks.

Making groups is one of the early strategies kids develop. We’ve seen kids sort their toys into things they think go together, or families. You can also facilitate it by asking questions or making comments. For instance, when your child is playing with cars and trucks you may notice, “I see 2 cars that are red. Are there any other red cars? All these cars are kind of the same because they are red.” Your child may help you find other red vehicles or make a group of another color.

categorizing skills with cars and trucks

Some groups or categories may seem mixed up to us, but kids have their own ideas. A bunch of cars may be mixed up with trains because they are all the bumpy ones. It’s not always obvious but kids are usually happy to explain. When they are making groups, we can ask if another toy belongs to that family. As kids play, we can occasionally interact and extend their play.

The following quote is from the website Autism Journeys that when teaching kids to categorize, “you are not just teaching a single skill but a system for learning, problem solving and organizing.  You are also teaching the foundation for processing, remembering and integrating new information.”

Cars and trucks and other transportation toys are more than toys. They are vehicles for helping kids play and learn categorizing skills.

Transportation Play Activities #1: Transportation Books for Kids

Children have all different kinds of interests. We can support kids by finding books they like. Here are some great transportation books for kids.

transportation books for kidsOne of the favorite transportation books for kids of a whole range of ages is Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Did you know this was published in 1974? For over 40 years kids—and grownups—have been loving this book. Did you look for Goldbug on every page?

The Pig family goes on a picnic and travels the highways and byways, along with wheels on things we’ve never seen, like a pickle, a pumpkin, and a broom. Officer Flossie chases Dingo in his bright red sports car. Each page has adventures of one sort or another.

transportation books for kidsDuck on a Bike by David Shannon is another adventure. Duck learns to ride a bike just like kids. Although the other animals on the farm are somewhat skeptical, they soon forget their criticisms and try it out for themselves. This is a book that kids love over and over, especially the very last page which gives duck another idea and tickles the imagination.

transportation books for kidsSpeaking of ducks, Truck Duck, by Michael Rex, has only 2 words on each page but sometimes reading them can be as funny as the illustrations. These two words rhyme which makes it harder not easier. How many times can you say Plow Cow without it becoming plow clow?

Stories that use rhyming text are very helpful for training the ears to listen carefully and the brain to pay close attention for slight variations in sounds. Kids need to hear zillions of words to figure out that these little bits of sounds can be combined in different ways. This is called phonological awareness and helps for learning to read. Just think of car, star, far, jar, tar, par, and mar. There are many other books with words that rhyme.

transportation books for kidsMo Willems of the Elephant and Piggy series must have kids. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus sounds just like kids who are trying to convince their parents to let them do something. When you read this book, be sure to use the same tone you hear at home to whine and complain.

If you want to make sure a child is listening when you are giving instructions, start with “Now, don’t let the pigeon drive the bus.” Right away, kids engage and there’s a greater chance they will remember. There are so many wonderful books for kids with trains, boats, cars, trucks, airplanes, rockets, submarines, diggers, ambulances, hot air balloons, and more. All kids will have favorite transportation books. What are the well-loved ones at your house?