Road Work Ahead – Cars, Trucks, and Construction Play

Know any kids who love to play with cars, trucks and construction vehicles? Me, too! Boys and girls alike can spend hours of imaginative play with a handful of small vehicles.

Remember that rich, brain-boosting play, according to leading Vygotskian researchers, needs to have some intentionality which I organize into the Ps.

Prepare – give a little background knowledge and vocabulary with books or experiences.

Props – useful to the play itself.

Purpose – roles and scenarios for the play time.


Prepare to play means you’re building a child’s knowledge in the play theme. You probably already point out every kind of construction vehicle to your kids while you’re in the car, right? (And, if they’re like my kids, they will correct you if you mistakenly identify a digger as a backhoe!)

Reading a book about the play theme works to build ideas for play scenarios, too.

I’m loving and highly recommend you read this new picture book, Road Work Ahead, written by Anastasia Suen and illustrated by Jannie Ho. In this story, a child and his mom ride in the car to grandma’s house. Along the way they see road workers, construction crews, and lots of construction vehicles. The colorful illustrations captivate your attention as much as the story. And, as you read you can talk about times you remember in the car when you’ve seen similar sights. (Text to me connections.) By the time the pair arrive at grandmas house for cookies, you’ll be ready to play your own Road Work Ahead!

For humans, creating such simulations of life may be play’s most valuable benefit. In play we can imagine and experience situations we have never encountered before and learn from them. We can create possibilities that have never existed but may in the future. We make new cognitive connections that find their way into our everyday lives. We can learn lessons and skills without being directly at risk.

– from Play by Stuart Brown, M.S. with Christopher Vaughan


When you get out your props – cars and trucks – talk about what scenarios your child might play. Wouldn’t it be fun to pretend the Road Work Ahead story and drive to grandma’s house? Or, maybe your child could pretend to be the construction worker who is going to block off the road for a big project. What kind of project would it be? Or what about a big lake that needs to be dug. What vehicles would you use for that?


Play now becomes rich because you’ve given it deeper meaning for your child so he or she can sustain the imaginative scenario much longer as well as imagine new and different ideas!

Use duct tape roads to criss-cross your carpet. Create a car city.

Play in the sand box.

Play in the dirt. Add water for muddy fun.

Add in blocks for houses. Add in play dough people.

Use a large cardboard box to make your own pretend.

How else do your kids play cars, trucks, and construction?

What other play ideas do you to tie in with reading Road Work Ahead?

Check out more ideas on the Carnival of Books!



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