Video segment about me, by the school district

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Toy Car Fun

"Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom" by Stuart Murphy
As the end of the year approaches, my students are a little wound up.  I have found that I really have to pull out all of my best tricks at the end of the year to keep their attention and their focus, and still keep teaching concepts.  Hold onto your seat belts as I race through a few of my best car ideas!

The book Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom by Stuart Murphy will really rev up your kids' engines!  It's all about patterns, but it's also a really cool story that allows your kids to make sound effects as you read it to them.  A little girl plays with her brother's toy cars and has to arrange them in the same pattern so she doesn't get in trouble when he returns.  Everyone in the family makes a different pattern with the toy cars, so it's a great tool to teach multiple kinds of patterns.  It's really perfect for pre-k and k.  I used construction paper cars (solid red, yellow and blue) to match the cars in the book.  The kids came up to the front and held the cars as they told me which car should go next.  I've also heard of teachers cutting out steering wheels of the same colors and have the children actually be the drivers.  If you place toy cars in your math center, your children can also further explore these concepts independently.  Here is a pattern assessment (for legal size paper, 8.5"x14") to check for understanding:
Pattern Car Long

I just went to a Dr. Jean workshop, and she mentioned a web site called Making Learning Fun.  It has the best highway mats that you run the toy car around so that students can actually feel how shapes, numbers and letters are made.  I made the shape set first, and laminated them, to see how my students would respond to this idea.  They absolutely loved it!  They kept saying things like "This is so awesome!  You're the best teacher!"  I figured the boys would enjoy it, but the reaction from the girls was also overwhelmingly positive as well.

Kids playing with shape highways

So that night, I made the highway numbers, adding traffic lights so the students would know where to start and stop for each one.  These are such a treasure for me, because my students tend to make numbers backwards.  Being blind, I wanted something that they could play with independently in centers that would be motivating and that would help them learn the correct way to form numbers.  Here is what I used:
Highway Numbers

I think it's important to introduce the mats in large group or in small group, show the children how to play with the mats, and then place them in the math center.  My students did a really great job in centers for the last two days, using the cars and mats appropriately.

"Vroom Chugga Vroom Vroom" by Anne Miranda and David Murphy

Vroom Chugga Vroom Vroom by Anne Miranda and David Murphy is another great book, which focuses more on numbers.  I have found many books that go up to 10, but not as many that go up to 20, like this one does.  I'm thinking to put stickers with numbers on the cars so the children could line them up before they race them.  I'm still going to only have 4 children in the center at a time, but each child could be in charge of 5 cars.

Here is a Level 2 guided reading book for those children who are working on their color identification skills:
I See The Cars

I would love to hear what all of you do with toy cars!

Finally, Miss Nelson is having an "All-Time Favorite Read-Alouds" Linky Party.  My favorite read-alouds change so often, but Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom is my favorite book for the end of the year because it holds their attention and it really solidifies the concept of patterns.


  1. thanks for linking up. I love that story too!

  2. Hi Sharon,

    Thank you for finding my blog and commenting! I am also thrilled that you asked about teaching in Thailand. I have been so busy I haven't been able to blog lately, but now I know what I can blog about! Thanks!

    I just watched your video. You are amazing!

    Innovate, Create and Relate