Play and Learn: Things that Go!

This week’s play and learn was transportation themed, so we had lots of cool stuff happening.


We started out with Dinosaurs Behind Doors, which is pretty much just Ants in the Pants with, well, dinos and doors! I had picked out Toot Toot, Beep Beep by Emma Garcia and Trucks: Whizz, Zoom, Rumble by Patricia Hubbell to read. I noticed that our crowd today was younger than usual, with several babies joining us. So, I ditched Trucks and just read Toot Toot, Beep, Beep. They kids really enjoyed making the sounds with me and it was definitely a successful read aloud.

After we read our story, we sang a song one of the other children’s librarian taught me called “Twinkle Twinkle Little Traffic Light”. Here are the lyrics:

Twinkle, twinkle traffic light,
On the corner shining bright.
Red means stop,
Green means go,
Yellow means very, very slow.
Twinkle, twinkle traffic light,
On the corner shining bright.

Then we turned on the music and got down to playing!

Sensory Play

For sensory play, we put out a bin filled with sudsy water and let the kids wash our plastic cars and boats. Water is always a popular sensory choice, and it was definitely a win today!

One of our other children’s librarians also made a kid-sized car wash by taping strips of bubble wrap, quilt batting, and crepe paper under a table. We threw a tablecloth over it and *bam* super awesome kidwash. We made sure to label the stages of the car wash on top, so we just had a little more print in the room.

Fine Motor, Gross Motor, and Print Identification

Our make and take for the day was a decorate your own steering wheel station. We punched holes around the edges of paper plates before we started, and we set them out with crayons, yarn, and tape. After the kiddos decorated with the crayons, they could make their own threading boards. They were surprisingly popular!

One part of early learning is telling stories back, which is why flannels are really nice to have hanging around. We managed to snag a Wheels on the Bus flannel set from our children’s outreach department, and they kids really loved taking the people in and out of the bus.

Playing, Pretending, and Narrative Play

We had a ton of cool cars and trucks for this one! Hard plastic trucks went in the truckwash, and soft baby-gnawable trucks were put out, too. I demonstrated to parents that they can make their own cars by having some Crystal Light containers reborn as cars out, too. Always nice to incorporate home-made, cheap things that parents can do on their own! The cars and trucks got driven over crazy roads made with tape on poster boards, over roads shaped like the word GO, and between the towers of blocks that we put out.

We also brought out some really cool cardboard boats (also made by our children’s outreach department) that were kid-sized, so they could sit in them and, if their parents were feeling perky, be pushed around.-

Wrap Up and Thoughts

There was no doubt in my mind that this would be a popular play and learn! After all, almost every kid goes through a truck or train or car or boat phase! We had a larger-than-usual turnout for us, with around 18 kids and 15 parents showing up.

What I think we can improve on for future play and learns is just making sure that we’re including lots of print in the room and lots of opportunity to develop fine motor skills. I think it’s so tempting to just throw out a bunch of cool stuff, but hopefully we can continue to be even more focused on making sure each station is really adding something to the experience.



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