A Click Clack Track or Car Run as they’re sometimes called is great for preschoolers and young people whose communication is at an early stage of development. It’s a really simple toy which is great for practising a variety of fundamental communication skills and you can get them in almost all toy shops. You can also use Marble Runs in the same way although they sometimes need building up first which is a bit of a pain if you just want to get going! If you want to learn more about fundamental early developing communication skills, please read my post called The Fundamentals of Communication.
- Anticipation – anticipation in familiar routines is an essential part of communication development. The car run is a motivating activity for doing just that! Hold the car at the top of the track and say ‘ready, steady…’ then pause before ‘go’. You’ll know that the child is anticipating what comes next if you get eye contact, smiles, vocalisation and/or obvious signs of excitement. You will find more information about this and other building blocks of communication in my post titled ‘The Fundamentals of Communication’.
- Choosing – Most car runs come with at least 2 cars so here is an ideal opportunity to give your child a chance to make a choice. Simply ask them which car they would like, you may need to support this by giving a ‘this one or that one’ forced choice like ‘do you want the blue car or the yellow car?’.
- Early expressive vocabulary – Using signs, symbols or words repeatedly in a familiar routine is a great way to encourage a child to use them themselves. The car run is really goo for encouraging vocabulary like ‘more’, ‘again’, ‘car’, ‘ready/steady/go’, ‘down’, ‘stop’.
- 2 word phrases – Building on your early vocabulary, the familiar verbal routine around the click clack track supports the development of varied 2 word phrases like ‘blue car’, ‘more car’, ‘faster car’.
- Joint attention – As you will know if you have read my previous posts in this series, joint attention is absolutely essential for communication and more wider learning. With the car run, you can work on this by pointing at the car as it runs down the track and celebrating together when it drops off the end.
- Turn-taking – Your child may want to make the car go him/herself and here you have a good opportunity to work on ‘my turn’ versus ‘your turn’.
A simple toy can go a long way!