Tips & Tricks

Use Toy Trucks to Build Early Communication and Listening Skills

Does your child love driving their toy truck or car all around the house? Toy vehicles are a great option for rehabilitation at home or at school. With a bit of imagination, you can use your child’s favorite toy vehicle to build their communication and listening skills.

In this activity example, we will use a dump truck. Remember you can adapt the steps for whatever toy vehicle your child likes, whether it be a car, plane or boat!


What you will need:

  • Cardboard box, large enough for toy dump truck. Cut one end of the box to make a “door” flap.
  • Large plastic dump truck, preferably with a tip-up back for unloading.
  • A bag filled with:
    • Wooden blocks (small enough to fit in the back of the truck)
    • 2 play people figures
    • Damp cloth or wet wipes



There are three main steps to this activity with a toy truck, all of which will help build your child’s communication and listening skills:

  • Pushing back and forth
  • Filling and emptying
  • Cleaning


Let’s begin!


Pushing back and forth:

  • Show your child the cardboard box with the dump truck in it.
  • Encourage your child to open the door of the cardboard box, pretending it’s a garage door. Say “open” before you open the door to gain your child’s attention. Peek inside and use an excited voice. Say “it’s a truck, hello truck, here is the truck!” Put emphasis on the key word—truck. This will help your child to associate the word with the object.
  • Encourage your child to take the truck out of the box.
  • Allow your child to freely play with the dump truck with their hands. Talk about what your child is interested in, for example turning the wheels. Each time you turn the wheels, say “round and round”. Remember to say the action before doing it, which encourages your child to listen first.
  • Push the dump truck back and forward saying, “vroom, vroom”. Give your child the truck and encourage them to move the truck and make the sound. Encourage your child to wait and listen to the words “vroom vroom” before they push the truck.
  • Introduce other words like “stop” and “go”. Encourage your child to do the action when they hear the word. Another fun activity is to let your child be the “teacher” so that they are telling you to “stop” and “go” with the truck.
  • Use both faster and slower words and match them to actions. For example say “vroom vroom” and move the truck quickly. Say “vrooooom………vrooooomm….” and move the truck more slowly.


Filling and emptying:

  • Take the bag of blocks and shake it, listening to the sound. Encourage your child to listen with you. Point to your ear and say “I hear that” or “shake shake shake” to cue them to the sound.
  • Allow your child to take out the blocks from the bag.
  • Put the blocks in the back of the dump truck, taking turns with your child. Say “fill it up” or “put it in” as you put each block in the truck. After the first 3 turns, wait for your child to use the phrase or a shorter version, before you put in the next block. This encourages them to use the words.
  • Allow your child to tip the blocks out before they are all in. Say “tip it out!” each time they tip the blocks out. After a few times, take the truck and wait for them to say “tip it out”, to tell you what to do.
  • Introduce the two play people figures. Give one to your child and keep one for yourself. Pretend to get them to pick up blocks and put them in the truck. Encourage your child to copy you. Try using different words or phrases for each of your actions.



  • When your child is ready for a different activity, you can pretend to clean the truck. Give each play person figure a wet wipe and have them “clean” the dump truck together.
  • Pretend that one of play people is the boss who says “go” and “stop” for when to clean.
  • Have the play people get on and off the vehicles. Pretend to let them talk to each other, using words such as “hello” and “goodbye”. This is a great way to build your child’s communication and listening skills.


Play with different vehicles:

Try out similar learning activities with other toy vehicles, like cars, boats or planes—whatever your child enjoys playing with. You can also use a couple of vehicles at once, and pretend to race them or bump into each other.

When playing with toy vehicles, keep the following in mind:

  • Allow your child to take the toy in their hands when they want to.
  • Talk about what your child is doing in short, clear phrases.
  • Try to use different sounds for each vehicle, for example “aahhhh” for plane, “vroom” for car, “pa pa pa pa” for boat.
  • Take turns. For example, first you try “flying” the plane, then encourage your child to do the same.

Remember, learning happens every moment your child has their processor on! These learning games with vehicles are great for your child to play not only at home, but also at school with friends!


Do you want to help your child gets the best out of their school days? Share this free downloadable guide with your child’s teacher! It has handy tips and tricks to help your child perform their best, such as how to make the classroom a good hearing environment. 

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