As you may have discovered by now, I feel that most any object can be a learning tool for preschoolers. Even a humble toy wagon is filled with potential. Wagons can help teach your child “opposites”, “problem solving”. “math skills”, and much, much more.
Art Skills – You can help your child develop creativity by decorating a wagon for a parade, or he can learn about colors while picking up colored items to place in his wagon.
Language Skills – Wagons are great for teaching concepts such as “in and out” or “push and pull”, or for searching for certain items that begin with a particular letter to put in the wagon.
Math Skills – Adding and subtracting objects from a wagon teaches important math skills.
Creative Dramatic Skills – Wagons can help with pretending, they can quickly become cars, trains or even covered wagons.
Coordination Skills – Wagons make a perfect target for tossing games, thus helping your child develop their large muscle skills.
Imagination Skills – Encourage your child to help you make up stories while you take her for a wagon ride.
Science Skills – Help your child discover why it is easier to use a wagon to haul a box of books vs. carrying them or using other means. You will be teaching beginning physics.
Writing Skills – Making signs and tickets for wagon play can help your child develop beginning writing skills.
Social Skills – What better way to learn to get along with others, than taking turns giving wagon rides.
MAXIMIZING TEACHING MOMENTS
How we solve problems throughout our lives depends largely on how many guided opportunities we were given as a child to figure things out for ourselves. As your preschool child goes about her day, look for situations where you can encourage her to help you solve a problem.
Example: You have a pile of dirt on one side of your yard and you need it on the other side for your flowerbeds. Ask your child for help. Suggest rather stupid things at first such as, using spoons, or filling up a box. Try to get your child to suggest you try a wheel barrel or wagon to transport the dirt across the yard.
Below are some fun and educational activities to do with your child utilizing a toy wagon
Invite your child and a few of her friends to decorate their wagons. Provide them with; tape, crepe paper strips, flowers (fake or real), paper and marking pens. When the wagons are decorated, have your child and her friends fill their wagons with stuffed animals and have a parade around the yard or down the sidewalk.
When your child is playing with a wagon, is a good time to exphasize words such as opposites. Try to use words like “in and out”, “push and pull”. “over and under”, “fast and slow”. Emphasizing words when they have specific meaning for your child is the best time for vocabulary building.
Play a game with your child. You will need a small wagon and a die. Take turns with your child rolling a die. Then count the dots and place that many objects into the wagon and then give the objects a ride around the room. Count with your child as the objects are placed in the wagon and also as they are removed.
Set out some props and dress-up clothes. Encourage your child to dress up and to incorporate the wagon into her play. Such as:
|a fire hat, garden hose and some big boots.
|a Santa’s cap, a large bag and some toys.
|a cowboy hat, some rope and some beef jerky.
| a flashlight, blanket and a storybook.
|a Dr.’s bag, some bandages and a toy doll.
As your child plays with his wagon, look for opportunities to incorporate reading and writing into the play. Does your child need a sign for his vehicle? Is his wagon a train today? Does he need tickets? Is his wagon a shopping cart? Does he need a store sign? Help him make signs, tickets or whatever he needs to enrich his play.
Take your child on a wagon ride around the neighborhood. Choose a color and see how many things you can find that are that color. When you tire of looking for colors, look for shapes in the objects around you.
What better container than a wagon to use for tossing games. Set out some bean bags or rolled up paper balls and let your child practice tossing them into the wagon. As they get good one distance, move the wagon a bit further away. Young children need lots of practice using their large muscles for coordination.
Learning isolated letters has very little meaning to young children. However, you can indirectly introduce your child to letters and letter sounds by making a game of it. Introduce the “w” sound to your child with the help of a wagon. Tell your child you are only going to put into your wagon things that start with the same sound as the word wagon. Set out 10 items, five that start with “w” and five that do not. Suggested items: whistle, wheel, water, toy whale and a watch. Pull the wagon past the items, saying their name and the words wagon. Let your child help you decide which object to put into the wagon.