Things that Go: Books and Activities for Kids

Lately, my little guy has developed quite the personality. He is expressive and happy and obsessed with all things that go (especially trucks). Some highlights from his usual week include watching the garbage truck go down our street, seeing semi trucks from his car seat, and watching the construction workers at the new apartment complex near our house.


He is also finally to the point where he will listen to me read longer books. This is excellent news because I think I have read Moo Baa La La La at least 1,235 times (it is a fun book but anything can get old). So, with our new found book freedom we are exploring the world of things that go. Trucks. Bulldozers. Trains. Etc.

In addition to longer books, it is nice that I can tell that he has a definite interest. This has given me a reason to find all kinds of truck/car/bulldozer activities to keep him busy and we want to share them with you!

Things That Go Books

Things that go is pretty broad for a book list. My kid hasn’t really honed in on a favorite thing that goes yet, he seems to love them all. However, these are some of the books that we read all of the time!

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry

This book features a little blue truck as well as a dump truck. It also includes farm animals and a good moral about friendship.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

This book teaches both colors and the names of the different cars on a freight train. As a side note, there is a pull apart book called Inside Feight Train by the same author.

Dump Trucks on the Move by Judith Jango-Cohen

This is an informational book we found at the library and have since had to check out 4 times. It has minimal words and basic information about dump trucks, front end loaders, and excavators. My son just grunts in happiness at every dump truck shown.

A New Toy Truck: Touch and Feel Board Book by Rufus Downey and Amy Cartwright

This is a book pre-made with STEAM activities on each page. It’s about a little dog who builds a toy truck for his brother.

Tractor Mac: Friends on the Farm by Billy Steers

This is a lift the flap book and just one of many Tractor Mac books. In this adventure, Tractor Mac helps Carla the Chicken find her ten chicks all over the farm and under the flaps. It includes a train, firetruck, plow, airplane, and more.

What Can A Crane Pick Up? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

This story is a comprised of a whole bunch of silly rhymes that detail exactly what a crane can pick up. Turns out, a crane can pick up not only another crane but men in business suits, boxes of underwear, and even you. My son thinks this one is hilarious.

Toot! by Kristen Hall

This story is about a little train who saves the day despite being picked on and coming up against obstacles. I like it because it teaches something. My son likes it because there are three trains and a crane.

I Stink by Kate McMullen

This book is told poetically (more rap than Shakespear) from the point of a garbage truck. It’s full of trash examples and includes an alphabet. (This is not my favorite book but my son loves it.)

More Things That Go Books

This is such a small sample of books for such a broad topic. One day I hope to break this down into more specific groups of books and activities but for now, here some links to other blogs that have reviewed many of these books (and some).

Things that Go Activities


  • As you read the various books, take the time to say the correct names for the different types of trucks, cars, and other construction equipment. Learn the terms for the parts of the trucks as well (piston, cover, load etc..) It may not interest you to know the difference between a front end loader and excavator but if you have a truck loving kid they will remember the names and be better for it.
  • Help your child find the same item in multiple books. For example, give them the term dump truck and point out the dump trucks in several books.
  • Create a Name Train as seen on Tippy Toe Crafts.

Field Trips

  • Visit a construction site (from a safe distance). Identify the equipment present. See this reference sheet.
  • Ride on a train or in a taxi. Identify other vehicles that you see on the way to your destination or at your destination.
  • Visit a farm and identify the farming equipment.
  • Point out trucks, construction equipment, airplanes, and trains during your normal daily activities. Things that go are absolutely everywhere.


  • Look for things to count in the books. In Freight Train we count the train cars, in Tractor Mac we count the lost chickies, in What can a crane pick up we count the objects on each page (pairs of underwear, men in business suits, etc.)
  • Count things in real life (at home or on a field trip). Three trucks. Four cars. Three cranes.
  • Add things in real life or on field trips. How many machines are at the construction site altogether? If Mommy can see five cars and Daddy can see three cars how many cars can they see in total? These kinds of questions are precursors to story problems and using the vocabulary early will help them in math later on.
  • Count how long a specific machine takes to do something. How many seconds does it take for the train to get to the next stop? How many times does the excavator move the dirt?
  • Build trucks made of basic shapes. See the tutorial on Little Family Fun.
  • Monster truck race math game as seen on Stir the Wonder.





Social Skills

  • Teach your child to look left, right, then left again before crossing the street. Ask them why it is important to do that each time.
  • Ride a train and talk about train etiquette. Look at the signs on the train and discuss what they mean. Ask your child why they think the rules are what they are and how rules keep us safe.
  • Visit a construction site (stay behind the fence) and talk about why the fence is there.

Whew, that is a lot of information. Does your child have a favorite “thing that goes” and a book that goes with it?