The most successful activities are always the ones that include something your child loves. Pair that passion with a game that has a developmental benefit and you've got a winning mix! For any parent with a car-loving little one, this is the perfect at-home activity to keep them engaged, soaking up vocabulary, and practicing their ABCs.
- Large piece of paper or cardboard
- 26 toy vehicles (or other figurines)
- Dot stickers or labels
- Start by drawing out 26 "parking spaces" on your piece of paper or cardboard. Leave enough space for your child to "park" their toy vehicle within the spot.
- Mark each parking space with a letter of the alphabet.
- Write a letter of the alphabet on each of your dot stickers.
- Attach one dot stickers to each of the toy vehicles with the letter clearly visible for your little one.
- Set the cars next to the parking lot. Before the game begins, come up with a story with your little one around what is happening. Are these cars parking because they are all part of a big race? Who are the people inside each of these cars? This is a fun way to promote pretend play involving your little one's passion.
- Start by demonstrating what the object of the game is for your little one. This will encourage concentration as they focus on imitating you.
- Pick a toy car and read the letter of the alphabet on the dot aloud. "This car has the letter B on it." This, alone, encourages letter recognition and verbal skills for your toddler.
- Then, with a controlled hand, drive the car to the parking spot with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. Narrating your actions can help guide your child. "This parking spot has the letter B on it. I am going to drive my car with the letter B on it and park there."
- Now, have your child select a new vehicle and do the same. If they are struggling, ask your child to direct the car to the right spot. You can provide guidance by asking them to first identify the letter on the car and then asking them questions like, "Point where the letter A is in the parking lot." As your child holds the car, this helps establish hand-eye coordination, fine motor control, and concentration.
Skill areas addressed:
- Fine motor development
- Letter recognition
- Hand-eye coordination
- Pretend play
Extensions & Adjustments:
- If your child is 1-2 years of age and is not ready to learn their letters yet, there are so many ways you can alter this activity for your child. You can do this with colors, shapes or even numbers.
- If your child is between 3-4 years of age and is learning their uppercase and lowercase letters you can have them match the lowercase cars to the uppercase parking space or vice versa.
- Overall, this activity can be adjusted to suit your child's specific interests. For example, if child loves animals, the 26 toy vehicles can be replaced with 26 toy animals, and they can be taking a seat at a stadium. Get creative!
Author: Chris Longo