Despite my efforts in offering various types of toys equally to my children, my 2.5yo 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!
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.
Chinese is a minority language for 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!
Important vocabulary – vehicle names in Chinese and English
Since I am learning Chinese with my children, and I have to review vehicle-related vocabulary from time to time! 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).
- 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)
- 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)
If you have been following us for a while, you know that 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…
Our kids do love the Melissa and Doug vehicle & road signs set, and we have had it for about 5 years! The set includes road signs plus a police car, ambulance, garbage truck, fire engine, taxi, and school bus.
Recycled Signs that encourage reading while playing
We have been using cardboard more often for our projects in 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:
- 2 toilet paper rolls per sign
- Card stock paper or cardboard
- Sharpie marker
How to set up signs:
- 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
- With a Sharpie marker, write 起点 (qǐdiǎn / start point) in large letters on a sheet of paper or cardboard. For reference, we used half of a cardstock paper, measuring 5.5 x 8.5 in (14 x 21.6 cm).
- Repeat the process for 终点 (Zhōngdiǎn / end point) and any other signs you’d like to make!
- Insert paper into slits to create sign.
DIY Cardboard Car Ramp
What you need for cardboard car ramp
If you don’t have road tape, you can paint the road with black and white acrylic paint, or just leave it plain.
We happened to have a big roll of road tape left over from last year’s car 车/車 learning activity!
How to set up cardboard car ramp
- Cut a long piece of cardboard that is approximately 6 in (15 cm) wide.
- Cut 2 strips of cardboard that are the same length as the first cardboard piece and approximately 1 in wide.
- Tape the strips to the sides of the first cardboard piece using clear packaging tape.
- Cut 2 pieces of road tape approximately the same length as the cardboard
- Affix the road tape as shown in the images.
- If you want a longer ramp, repeat above steps and join the 2 ramps with clear packaging tape.
- Cut 2 pieces of cardboard that are 4 inches (10 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wide.
- Tape the cut pieces of cardboard to both ends of the track.
- Label the start and finish lines
- Prop up the cardboard car ramp onto furniture (eg, shelf, chair, table)
- Line up cars and send them down the track!
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!
They also had fun seeing which cars seemed faster than others!
My 2-year-old also learned that gravity allows cars to roll spontaneously down a track but not upward!
Here are other websites that showed how they made their cardboard car ramps so you can choose which method works best for your family!
- Cardboard tube car ramps (Imagination Tree)
- Cardboard box ramps race for Hot Wheels cars (Frugal Fun for Boys & Girls)
More hands-on learning activities for kids
- DIY Mountains and Golf Game (Free Printable)
- Sight word games about transportation
- Educational activities with recycled cardboard and toilet paper rolls
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