Whether your child knows the name, make and model of every construction vehicle or only occasionally pulls them from shelf to play with them, construction vehicles, like many every day toys, can be a great way to support communication from toddlerhood right through the early school years. 

Check out our top 10 ways to use construction vehicles to support communication!

  1. Building early vocabulary words

When a child is just beginning to speak, it is great to focus on words that can be used in a variety of settings and situations. Playing with construction vehicles is a perfect time to teach words such as “go,” “more,” “up” and “down.”

2. Practising /k/ and /g/ sounds
Playing with construction vehicles is also a great opportunity to practise using our /k/ and /g/ sounds. Here are some phrases that can be used for this. You can model these alongside your child during play.
Can I get a ____?”
Go ___!”
Give me ___ please”
Get a brick
“In the garage
Carry the ____”
Can we go ____”

3. Imitating sounds
Another activity you can do with a little one who is learning to talk is have them imitate sounds. While playing with construction vehicles, this might include sounds like “vrrrrm” “boom” “beep beep” “uh oh” “crash” “bump”

4. Pretend Play

Pretend play is an important skill for all children to develop. The child can have the construction trucks interact with each other and themselves, and they can have the construction vehicles or toy people solve problems, such as a blocked road, an overturned crane, a spill or a crash.

5. Making stories
Similarly, learning to tell stories is another important skill for children. A child can make a story using the construction vehicles. The construction vehicles can go on a journey or help another car that is stuck!  Two great books to read alongside this are ‘Dig, Dump, Roll’ by Sally Sutton and ‘Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site’ by Sherri Duskey Rinker.

6. Using adjectives

Construction vehicles provide numerous opportunities for using adjectives, or describing words. These can include colours, size, fast/slow, strong, weak, thin, wide, and many more.  This is a great freebie from Adventures in Speech Pathology that shows the different kinds of adjectives you can use to expand your child’s language.

7. Answering “WH” questions

When playing with construction vehicles, it can be a good opportunity to practise asking and answering WH questions. Here are some examples:
What is the bulldozer doing?
Where did the dump truck go?
Who is driving the tractor?
When does the garbage truck visit us?
Why did the truck get stuck?

8. Following Directions
One fun way to practise following directions is by playing Simon Says with the vehicles. For example, “Simon Says the tractor should go under the table.” For a fun twist, you can also have your child give you the directions!

9. Turn Taking

Playing with construction vehicles also allows for the child to develop turn taking skills. This can include taking turns to play with a certain vehicle, or taking turns going up or down a ramp. You can include the words “your turn” and “my turn” so your child knows whose turn it is.

10. Building longer sentences

Finally, construction vehicles provide a number of opportunities to build longer sentences. If your child says, “Bulldozer going.” You can respond, “Yes, the bulldozer is going.” Or, if your child says, “The farmer is driving the tractor,” you could model, “Yes, the farmer is driving the big green tractor!” 

Whatever way you decide to play with construction vehicles, the most important part is that you’re playing and communicating with your child. And if your child is an expert on construction vehicles, you might learn some new vocabulary as well!