Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Embrace the Matchbox Cars! Some Sorting Thoughts.

Does this look familiar?

What about this?
If you have boys, or a girl who simply loves all things cars, then you have probably stepped on a Matchbox in the dark of night and vacuumed up a Hot Wheels hubcap or two.

I have learned to embrace these toy car messes for two reasons: 
  1. They are not dirty.  As opposed to spilled Ritz crackers crunched into the carpet or the jelly from a pop-tart mashed into the couch cushions, a car mess may look crazy,  but when it comes down to it I can clean it up in about 60 seconds.
  2. Cars are great for imaginary play, my boys and my little girl have spent HOURS playing with cars throughout the years.  Cars are great for pretend play, and they teach sharing (just in case you don't have 2 or 3 of every single car you own!)
I have also discovered that a tote full of cars can be a quick tool for some basic review for your little ones. Yes, that huge pile of cars that you constantly box up to take to Goodwill can be put to educational use!

I may not have time every morning to sit down and review a book on colors, among other things, with my little guy.  And although it is important to have that lap time with him on a daily basis (and we attempt it!) he honestly seems to learn better with "hands on" training.
One way we have turned car time into a fun, educational moment is by car sorting.  My 4 year old also enjoys this game and is a big helper! She is thrilled because we often create a rainbow with the different colors.  Who doesn't love rainbows?

Next we piled all the cars back up and sorted them by style (ex. Diggers, Trucks, Racing Cars, Convertibles, etc.)
With a little imagination, I'm sure you can come up with a million ways to teach your kids to sort and organize cars.  This has also been a great way to teach counting.  My little guy does not always enjoy working in a counting board book or with flashcards, but he loves counting and moving his cars from one spot to the next.
Soon there will be a day when the little cars under our feet are boxed up in the attic, waiting for the day when a small grubby hand, sticky with the jelly of some futuristic pop-tart, will run them across the carpet again.  Make the most of these messes on the floor, and don't be afraid to occasionally turn play into something educational!


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