DIY Cardboard Car Ramp – Play While Learning Chinese Vehicle Names!

Despite my efforts to offer my children various types of toys, my son is 110% obsessed with vehicles.  He is often holding at least one car in each hand!  If he isn’t chatting our ears off, he’s making zoooom zoooom zooooooooooom sounds and driving something around!

DIY Cardboard car ramp

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In keeping with our child-led, play-based learning style, we made a cardboard car ramp and practiced saying Chinese words related to driving and racing.

Related: Learn the Chinese Word 车/車 (Chē / Car) with Road Tape!

Chinese is a minority language in our family, so I try to make it extra fun since everybody tends to gravitate toward English.

However, as always, you can do this activity in any language!

DIY Cardboard Car Ramp - Play While Learning Chinese Vehicle Names!

Important vocabulary – vehicle names in Chinese and English

Since I am learning Chinese with my children, I need to review vehicle-related vocabulary occasionally!  Here are vehicle-related words in simplified and traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and English.

Please note that Chinese words, including vehicles, may vary from region to region (eg, China versus Taiwan).

  • General
    • 預備,準備,開始! (Yùbèi, zhǔnbèi, kāishǐ / Set, ready, go [Ready, set, go]!)
    • 各就各位 (gè jiù gè wèi / On your mark!)
    • 开车 / 開車 (Kāichē / Drive car)
    • 司机 / 司機 (Sījī / Driver)
  • Common vehicles
    • 车 / 車 (chē / car)
    • 卡车 (kǎchē) or 货车 (huò chē / truck)
    • 皮卡车 (Píkǎ chē / pickup truck)
    • 垃圾車 ( lājī chē or lèsè chē / garbage truck)
    • 公共汽车 (Gōnggòng qìchē / bus)
    • 校车 (Xiàochē / school bus)

Related: Craft Stick Airplane Sight Word Matching Puzzle

  • Emergency vehicles
    • 消防车 (Xiāofáng chē / fire truck)
    • 救护车 (Jiùhù chē / ambulance)
    • 警车 (Jǐngchē / police car)
  • Construction vehicles
    • 推土机 (tuītǔjī / bulldozer)
    • 翻斗车 (fāndǒuchē / dump truck)
    • 拖拉机 (tuōlājī) or 牽引機 (Qiānyǐn jī / tractor)
    • 吊车 (diàochē / small crane)
    • 起重机 (qǐzhòngjī / industrial crane)
    • 混凝土搅拌车 (Hùnníngtǔ jiǎobàn chē) or 水泥車 (Shuǐní chē / Cement mixer)/ cement mixer
    • 挖掘机 (wājuéjī) or 挖土機 (Wā tǔ jī / excavator)
    • 反方向產 (Fǎn fāngxiàng chǎn / backhoe)
DIY Recycled Cardboard Car Ramp!

Toy vehicles

I try to keep a minimalist home and insist that relatives and friends send only open-ended toys or, preferably, no gifts. However, my in-laws can’t help but frequently send us Hot Wheels and other random cars…

Related: Parking Lot Craft and Toy Car Matching Activity

Our kids love the Melissa and Doug vehicle and road signs set, and we have had it for years!  The set includes road signs, a police car, an ambulance, a garbage truck, a fire engine, a taxi, and a school bus.

DIY Cardboard Road for toy cars

Recycled Signs that encourage reading while playing

We have been using cardboard more often for our projects in an attempt to be more environmentally conscious while encouraging creativity and exploration.

Even though my son is not yet reading, and my daughter already knows these Chinese characters, I still try to incorporate Chinese characters via signs related to their play.

Chinese signs serve as visual cues to speak the minority language!

What you need for signs:

  1. 2 toilet paper rolls per sign
  2. Scissors
  3. Card stock paper or cardboard
  4. Sharpie marker
Where to cut a slit in toilet paper roll for sign

How to set up signs:

  1. On one end of a toilet paper roll, cut approximately 1 inch (2.5cm) slits directly across each other.  Repeat this on the other toilet paper roll.
  2. With a Sharpie marker, write 起点 (qǐdiǎn / start point) in large letters on a sheet of paper or cardboard.  We used half of a cardstock paper measuring 5.5 x 8.5 in (14 x 21.6 cm) for reference.
  3. Repeat the process for 终点 (Zhōngdiǎn / endpoint) and any other signs you’d like to make!
  4. Insert paper into slits to create the sign.
DIY Cardboard Car Ramp - Play While Learning Chinese Vehicle Names!

DIY Cardboard Car Ramp

What you need for cardboard car ramp

  1. Cardboard
  2. Road tape
  3. Scissors
  4. X-Acto Knife
  5. Clear packaging tape
  6. Painter’s tape

If you don’t have road tape, you can paint the road with black and white acrylic paint or leave it plain.

We had a big roll of road tape left over from last year’s car 车/車 learning activity!

Clear packing tape on back and sides of cardboard car ramp
Clear packing tape on back and sides of cardboard car ramp

How to set up cardboard car ramp

  1. Cut a long piece of cardboard approximately 6 in (15 cm) wide.
  2. Cut 2 strips of cardboard the same length as the first cardboard piece and approximately 1 in wide.
  3. Tape the strips to the sides of the first cardboard piece using clear packaging tape.
  4. Cut 2 pieces of road tape approximately the same length as the cardboard
  5. Affix the road tape as shown in the images.
  6. If you want a longer ramp, repeat above steps and join the 2 ramps with clear packaging tape.
  7. Cut 2 pieces of cardboard 4 inches (10 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wide.
  8. Tape the cut pieces of cardboard to both ends of the track.
  9. Label the start and finish lines
  10. Prop up the cardboard car ramp onto furniture (eg, shelf, chair, table)
  11. Line up cars and send them down the track!
Clear packing tape at finish line and along the inner edge of ramp
Clear packing tape at finish line and along the inner edge of ramp

Have fun playing and learning with the cardboard car ramp!

My kids had a blast experimenting with placing the ramp at different angles!  In addition, my daughter insisted that we teach little brother how to arrange the cars in color order!

Cardboard car ramp

They also had fun seeing which cars seemed faster than others.

My toddler also learned that gravity allows cars to roll spontaneously down a track but not upward.

DIY Cardboard car ramp

More hands-on learning activities for kids


  1. Rachel L Gerner says:

    My 20-month old is delighted with all vehicles. Thank you for the word list and activity idea!

    1. You’re welcome, Rachel! I hope your little one has as much fun as my kids! 🙂

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