Playing with Toy Cars, Trains, Boats and Planes

September 17, 2015 Published by

Toy vehicles have been a staple part of the toy box for years, from simple wooden wheeled toys for infants, to high-tech remote control cars.

Here are some of the benefits of toy cars, trains, boats and planes:

Pretend play

Children come across vehicles frequently in their daily lives, so they like to incorporate these in small world play, too. Imaginative play allows children to exercise their creativity and helps them make sense of the world around them.

1 year olds particularly like copying their role models, and ride-ons that look like real cars give them the chance to do this.

Physical development

Wheeled toys are great for encouraging movement, as children wheel their toys around the room. This is especially key for infants who are on the way to crawling, as it will give them a fun reason to become more mobile. Movement helps develop their co-ordination, balance and gross motor skills.

Infants who are strengthening their fine motor skills will also benefit from grasping the toys while wheeling them around.

Ride-ons are good for children around 2 years and up, as these motivate a lot of leg movement, helping strengthen the muscles needed for walking.

Understanding the world

Children can become familiar with the different vehicles through play. Some toys also introduce children to roles in the community, like the Playmobil 1.2.3. Recycling Truck. This builds on their knowledge of the world.

Social or Independent play

Toy vehicles can be played with independently, but children also love to race each other! This encourages children to share and negotiate (for example, deciding who gets the special red car), and lets them learn about friendly competition. 


Boats at bath time

Children can be reluctant to have a bath, but can be kept entertained with bath toys. Toy boats are great for this, turning the bath into a giant ocean to sail on!

Toy boats can also be used for water play, which is a good sensory activity and allows children to learn about the effects of water (e.g. learning that if they push a floating boat under the water, it will bob back up again).


Encouraging sounds in play

Early communication involves children making their own sound effects when playing. Toy vehicles can support this as children are likely to have seen them in action – so they know to make a ‘brum’ noise for a car or a ‘choo-choo’ noise for a train.


Toys like the Toot-Toot Drivers sets by VTech let children build their own tracks for vehicles to run on. This helps develop logical thinking, by learning which pieces can fit together and how this will affect the vehicle’s route.

Children can also discover cause and effect, by finding out what happens if they push or drop vehicles down ramps and along tracks.

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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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