Cars, trains, boats and planes – Why transport fascinates
As soon as children can talk, they start to name and own the world around them. Things that move and go, drive, fly and float are among some of the first words that children learn, and they remain endlessly fascinating to young minds. How amazing that these great machines can go so fast on roads or tracks, or even through the air or floating on water. When seen through the eyes of a child, these vehicles are powerful, enormous and awe inspiring. From little cars and bath boats, to huge jumbo jets and train sets. Toys that children can manipulate and drive, whizz and zoom, race and crash, have enduring appeal. These toys teach children about the world around them: how wheels, machines and transport work and move, how distances are travelled and goods are transported. They excite young minds with their speed and power. Whether by wheels, water, track or air, transport toys are always on the move!
Cars are often the biggest favourites, in the transport category of toys. Cars are great for learning shared play and cooperation, spatial awareness, matching and sorting. Toy cars can be all manner of designs, materials, shapes, sizes, colours and makes. From the sturdy, curvy, primary-coloured first cars for toddlers, to pull-backs that go on their own and make noises, to collections of cars with yards of track to assemble; cars will be raced, crashed, smashed and piled-up for generations to come.
We all know model trains have been around for decades. These are the classic toys of old, complete with replica engines, cariiages, track and scenery. Hornby, for example, are probably one of the best known toy makers in the United Kingdom, and are particularly renowned for their magnificent model trains. But if you dismissed model trains as being for older kids (or even dads!), then you haven’t seen some of the wonderfully wooden train sets, complete with chunky track and colourful trains. These are perfect for younger children, from around age 3 upwards.
Boats for the bath, remote-controlled boats for the pond, and even ships with wheels that can be driven round the living room; boats needn’t just be for bath time. And boats needn’t just float on the surface; they can sometimes swim underwater too. How and why boats float, and how and why some sink, gets young minds thinking about how natural materials and machines work – a first step into some big scientific concepts.
As soon as children see things in the sky, they ask questions about flight – how do birds fly, how does a plane work? Another magical world, of scientific thought, opens up to them. Playing with planes and helicopters also opens up a world of the imagination. How does it feel to fly? With toys like these, little ones can start to imagine themselves in the role of pilot, bird, superhero; and these games and imaginings fuel their vocabulary and understanding of the world.