My nearly-two-year old has a passion for cars that does not waver. He also has a love for step stools and climbing, carrying things in bags, an interest in colors and a perseverance that will serve him well later in life.
To allow him to combine all of these interests in a fun, rule-following activity (keeping him from getting into shelves, countertops, drawers and cupboards, and saving my sanity–at least for a little bit) I made color-matching wall car tracks for him to climb up to and zoom his cars on.
My first step was to draw Matchbox car sized roads on different colored construction paper, creating six uniquely shaped tracks and making sure at least some of them were shoulder-width or more wide to encourage crossing over when using the dominant hand. I “laminated” them with contact paper to make them more durable, because I know my boys are not gentle, and I know my boys will want to use them again.
Then, since my toddler is not yet proficient with his colors, or more accurately might know just one, I picked out the six cars from our collection that most closely matched the green, yellow, red, purple, blue and orange colored paper and put them in an old, cute cloth Easter basket.
During nap time, I posted the car tracks around the house on the walls using poster tack, brought out the stool from the bathroom sink and set the basket of cars on it a few feet away from one of the tracks and waited for the fun to begin.
.After he awoke from his nap, his eyes found the tracks on the walls immediately. “Zoom!” And he immediately picked up the bag, put his arm through the handle, picked up the stool and set it under the first track and grabbed a car to drive. I gently suggested he use the yellow truck on the yellow road. He quickly wanted to move on, and we went from track to track, me guiding him to use the matching car, and him driving each track, however poorly. But it didn’t matter. No pressure to follow the road, go around the whole track, do anything in a certain order. He had fun, and even more than learning colors or motor skills, that is the important to a child’s learning and development. And he’s been carrying around cars in his little basket ever since.