Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Preschool Engineer's Definitive Guide to TRUCKS

Before I had a son I called all working machines “trucks.” Alongside my toddler I have learned more about trucks than I ever would have guessed. We have read books (good, bad, and ugly). We have memorized lyrics to songs. We have played with (and, if possible, broken) what seems like every toy truck available.

This is the definitive list of all things TRUCK. It is a summary of the best toys, music, videos, and books for preschoolers about trucks.

Outdoor Toys
In our experience, TONKA makes the best toy working trucks. They are rugged and can withstand the rough and tumble playground play of preschool. After being flung down the slide, their pieces remain in tact. Their wheels provide great traction on a variety of surfaces. 

These are the three best trucks for building a working fleet: 

  1. a grader (a blade for smoothing surfaces), 
  2. a trencher (for scooping and dumping), and 
  3. a dump truck (with an angled bed so contents to just fall out when being transported).

The hefty steel trucks by TONKA might be too much for your family. Prefer plastic? Our favorite plastic toy trucks are by BATTAT. And, conveniently enough, they offer three different kinds of trucks to add to the working fleet.

  1. front end loader (scoop on the front is agile and easy to maneuver but you will likely have to constantly tighten the screws),
  2. garbage truck, and
  3. cement mixer (expect your child to directly turn the drum instead using the tiny crank).

Crane trucks are tricky because there is a rope that, presumably, gets cranked up and down that has to also attach to a hook. Our favorite is by Mattel because is is sturdy and has been dragged all over. The catch is that the rope does not do a lot of out and back work...usually my kids tie or tape things on the end. At the high price, I would probably go for a different truck in the fleet but if a crane is what you need then this is our fav:

The trucks I list here have been in our family for three to five years and have withstood the tests of time.

Indoor Toys
Our favorite indoor truck play is with Play-doh's Diggin' Rigs toys. The machines themselves are interesting to work with and putting them together makes for imaginative play that might take over your entire room. These are our favs:

  • A circular saw (never did I ever think I would find a toy circular saw!),
  • Fire Truck (for spraying water that isn't really water...it is blue play-doh!),

  • Quarry (a crank and tumbling play-doh gravel).

The last awesome toy I'll list is Constructive Eating Utensils. They are my go-to gift for two year olds. These "toys" have also been in my family...for six years...and they are still used on a weekly basis.

Truck Tunes is easy to recommend for truck lovers everywhere. The songs are snappy and strangely stick-in-your-head-y and they describe trucks and the work they do. Thirty songs are available to download!

The folks over at Twenty Trucks also made music videos of their Truck Tunes. You can preview them on YouTube or download them to your device for on-the-go entertainment (i.e., airplane travel).

Mighty Machines is a show produced in Canada for kids. It features live video footage of real machines at work. The audio is dubbed over and gives voices to the machines who tell the stories of their days. Learn about rock quarries, work on the farm, deep underground, and even take to the seas or skies!

Pick some to buy or watch on Netflix.

Bob the Builder on PBS Kids is a cartoon series and has an empire of its own. Each episode reveals a project for Bob and his team of machines to do. Books, an app and toys are available to coordinate with the show. The story-telling and animation are both awesome. Bob and his team are easy to recommend as additions to your preschooler's world of TRUCKS.


Here is my first word of warning: Steer clear of books by TONKA. They are practically sales catalogs for their toys and the writing is downright awful. If you need something akin to truck-porn then I recommend Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go or Richard Priddy's First 100 Trucks

If you are looking for better books...ones that you can enjoy as much as your child then check out the list below.

For the Love of Trucks
These are the books that tell a story about playing with trucks or loving them.

Trucks and the Work They Do
These books teach about trucks...the sounds they make, the work they do on their own, or as a member of a truck team.

Trucks Come to Life
These books tell the story that has a truck as the main character. [Note: I do not LOVE "Dinotrux" but boy oh boy do kids love it!]

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