Quick! Take a look around the room. What do you see all over the floor? I bet there is a good chance you responded, “toy cars, buses and trucks!” Kids adore toy vehicles. Zooming, beeping, racing, crashing, parking. You name it. Over the years my boys found creative ways to play with their little vehicles and this list of toy car play ideas is a showcase of their imaginations.
Toy cars can be used for all kinds of play: sensory play, learning, pretend play and outdoor time! So the next time your children get out their buckets of toy cars, roads, train tracks and vehicles of all sizes, shapes and colors, let these photos and ideas be an inspiration for your children!
P.S. There are actually more than 20 ideas below. 😉
Sensory Toy Car Play Ideas
Stuck inside in winter? Bring the outdoors in and create a snowy scene for an indoor snow traffic jam.
Bubble Bath Car Wash. For many years before kid activity blogs exploded on the internet, this was the most popular post on this blog. It is so simple and yet keeps kids busy for hours!
Drive Them Through a Sensory Tray. You can fill a baking tray with any number of things. Some of our favorite fillers have been dried beans, and old expired grains like rice or millet.
Exploding Car Wash! Give the classic bubble bath toy car wash a volcanic twist!
Young children can sit at the table and give cars a sponge bath. Include a small container of water and a sponge.
This activity takes a little time to set up, but if your kids love the book Katy and the Big Snow they will adore this toy vehicle activity that offers up several variations.
Set up a shaving cream car wash. For the ultimate sensory experience use shaving cream. You’ll need to use the kind in aerosol cans. Beware, it can have a strong menthol smell, but cleans up very easily!
Stick them in play dough. Whip up a batch of no-cook play dough or use the store-bought kind. Include toy vehicles and other tools for extensive pretend play that works the imagination and fine motor skills!
Pretend Play Toy Car Activities
Toy vehicles of all kinds are a natural addition to any child’s pretend play repertoire! Here are some incredibly easy ways we have made toy car play even more entertaining.
Roll cars down a ramp. Prop up a baking tray on a stack of books for endless fun! Kids will love experimenting with height and how fast each car can go.
Get out the blocks, create a city or make a few towers and stack them on LEGO.
Turn a cardboard box into a series of tunnels by carving out doorways. Then line up cars to drive through or create a pile-up inside!
Prove that beauty is a not requirement for fun and park cars in a (very ugly) diy toy car parking garage. Create a multi-leveled garage by taping in cardboard cut to size. Alternatively just use an empty box – no “fancy” parking levels required.
Park cars in a recycled container garage. I was surprised at how utterly enchanted the kids were by this ridiculously ugly thingamajig I put together with some recyclables!
Make a road and habitat on poster board. You can also use butcher paper for this. If you prefer, your kids can decorate the paper and draw their own roads and landmarks.
Outdoor Toy Car Activity Ideas
I’m sure your kids have clung to their little toy car friends even as you tried to leave home. Let them take them to the park and playground!
Take them to the playground on hot days when the playground sprinklers are on and soak cars in a bucket.
Do a little off-roading on rocks at the park.
Dig roads in the sandbox — even in winter!
Learn with Toy Cars
Cars can be incredibly great tools for learning. Here are some simple ways kids can learn concepts even when they think all they are doing is goofing around!
Cars are cheaper by the dozen. Count them out and put them in egg cartons.
Explore geometry and form a grid with them on the floor.
Gather the cars together and then sort them by color.
Explore your artistic side and paint them. Use washable paints because you might change your mind!
(Not pictured) Learn basic math sums with an addition parking lot. Best for elementary aged kids who have some math skills.
And finally, a bonus! One day I opened a box and put it out for recycling only to discover the boys had appropriated it as their newest road. Kiddo even said, “thanks, mom, for keeping this box for us!”
You’re welcome, Kiddo.
- Pretend play prompts
- Make your own bookmobile with this free printable template
- Make your own subway train cars with this coloring page train template