Construction Themed Play
Diggers are life over here, so when I need to entertain my truck obsessed boys (now almost five and almost two) I can always count on a construction themed play. My kids absolutely adore anything construction. I can confidently declare that I know all about backhoes, excavators, graders, skid steer loaders and MANY other construction vehicles.
It is simple to set up and always delights. It’s pretty easy to work some learning opportunities into the play too – count loose parts, bury letters or numbers to dig up, load up a dump truck with a particular colour of pompom or other loose part…
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What do you need?
- Construction toys – Our favourite are these mini Caterpillar construction toys (check under ‘construction toys’). They’ve stood up to extreme toddler testing. They’re the perfect size for little hands and for sensory bin play.
- Shallow bin – we often use the IKEA Flisat table or a large, shallow under bed storage bin.
- Sensory base of choice – check out some favourites below.
- Accessories aren’t necessary, but can be fun. Read on below.
Loose Parts & Construction Play Accessories
Loose parts kind of fall into the accessories category. You can’t really go wrong with anything you add to a construction bin – extra little items can help extend how long your child is entertained and can totally transform an invitation to play.
- Small traffic cones
- Small road signs (DIY or check these signs out)
- Small dolls (Duplo guys, peg dolls)
- Paper roll tubes (tunnels)
- Popsicle sticks
- Letter blocks
- Number blocks
- Bits of wood / twigs
- Roads – road tape is fun. And we get a ton of use out of our rubber roads, but have also made some out of cardboard which work really well too.
A note on pantry play items
Our pantry play items have been played with over and over for a few years now. I especially like when a play is taste safe, but I have mixed feelings about using food for play. Food scarcity is an obvious issue for so many. Be mindful when finding materials to use. When we started doing sensory play I asked my friends and family to keep their expired pantry items for us to play with.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some of these items clearly might attract ants or bugs if not cleaned up properly! We play in the kitchen where it’s easy to sweep up after, or head outside when the weather cooperates!
Rainbow Rice Construction Play
Rainbow rice is simple to make and is so much fun to play with construction vehicles. Add colourful pompoms to scoop and dump. Work on identifying colours and counting the pompoms.
How to make rainbow rice: put a cup of rice in a container and add drops of food colouring with about half a teaspoon of vinegar.
Put a lid on the container and shake it up. Spread the rice out on a parchment lined cookie sheet to dry. Repeat for each colour.
Kinetic sand is terrific for construction play! If you’ve been on the fence, definitely give it a try.
Kinetic sand looks like regular sand, but it squishes together and falls apart in the most fantastic way.
I buy ours, but Myriam @mothercould has a DIY recipe I’ve been itching to try.
Dry black beans are such a fun sensory base. Perfect for scooping and dropping, over and over.
And they’re relatively easy to sweep up if anything does end up outside the bin (and let’s face it, it’s going to).
Dry chickpeas are another great sensory base. They make such a fun sound when scooped and dropped.
Playdough Construction Play
Arguably the best ever material for sensory play, if you ask me – playdough can be used for any setup, but it’s particularly awesome for construction play. Strengthen those little fingers by making balls (boulders) to truck around, build a mine, roll out a road. Even just rolling vehicles through the dough is entertaining.
Try my favourite playdough recipe – super soft and lasts ages. Grab it below and check out this page for more playdough ideas!
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My kids are always bringing rocks home. I put a sticky note on our washing machine door reminding me to check their pockets. I keep all the little pebbles in a container. They’re perfect for construction play. One of my favourite ways to add some simple math practice is to ask my son to count the right number of rocks into his truck. I give him the ‘order’ and delivery destination, which he buys into and is more fun than just saying “Let’s practice counting!”
Here I gave my son little discs with numbers written on them and asked him to load that many rocks into the truck.
DIY Dirt Construction Play
Cloud dough is easy enough to make. My son adores it and the texture is fun and great for construction play, he likes to pretend it’s dirt. It feels like flour for a minute but then you squeeze to mold it and it sticks together. You won’t see us make this too often though, because it is (in my opinion) exceptionally MESSY. If your kid is pretty good at keeping play inside the bin, excellent – but if not, be prepared for some clean up (or take it outside!).
To make cloud dough (if I haven’t scared you off – hope not, it really is fun):
Bake four cups of flour on a cookie sheet in the oven for about five minutes at 350 F. Let it cool and shape it into a pile. Make a well in the centre and add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Mix it up and knead it till the flour is ‘moldable’.
If you ever have leftover cereal at the bottom of the bag (the stuff that’s so crumbly it might not get eaten) or a bag of cereal that’s gone stale, this is your perfect solution! Crunch it up or throw it in a food processor for a second to make a simple (and taste safe) ‘dirt’ or ‘sand’ for a construction small world.
Hope you and your kids enjoy some fun construction play! Tag @craftymothering on Instagram so I can share your play!
And if you’re looking for more vehicle fun, head over to this muddy truck play.
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