Big Vehicles Teach Lessons at Head Start Event

May 12, 2017 ~ The parking lot at Head Start quickly filled up recently as vehicles of all sizes pulled in for the early childhood education's first Touch-a-Truck event. From two wheels to 18 wheels, some without doors and one with six doors, the vehicles grabbed the children's attention from the moment they walked outside.

"On a scale of 1-10, I would say my son's experience was an 8.5," said parent Liliana Villages, who volunteered to help with the event. "Isaac was excited to show us all of the vehicles that day, running from one to another with a smile on his face."

Head Start teacher Mariah Darbe came up with the idea for Touch-a-Truck as a way to teach children what the machinery does, and to practice their counting skills. They spent time in class learning about lawn tractors, front-end loaders, dump trucks, and limousines among other vehicles and machinery. With help from their teachers and parent volunteers, students counted everything from wheels to windows and doors on each machine.

"The children definitely learned about different trucks and what their jobs consist of," Villages said. "I think activities like Touch-a-Truck are wonderful for the students to experience. Hands-on learning helps show them an overall view of the things they learned about in class and lets them have an even more exciting learning experience."

Two motorcycles were among the smallest machines, and a long-dump trailer from the City of Olathe competed with a massive tow truck for the title of largest machine.

"I started with vehicles that my co-workers had, such as my motorcycle, a limo and dump truck," Darbe said. "Then I began calling people I knew to help. The school district provided a riding lawn mower and tractor with front loader, and a parent helped bring another motorcycle and truck."

After reaching out to the community, Darbe was able to involve the City of Olathe and a local tractor dealership. A city representative said they're always open to helping with this kind of project if their schedules allow. For the first Touch-a-Truck event at Head Start, the city brought a backhoe, vactor truck (for cleaning sewer lines and other things) and a dump truck.

"A lot of the teachers are already looking forward to next year and the activities they can do to support this," Darbe said. "They appreciated the outdoor event and thought it was much bigger than they expected it to be."

A driver for a local big-rig towing service helped a few students up into the cab so they could enjoy the view. A few students even dared to pull the cord and blow the truck’s horn. girl in cab of big truck

The bucket of a skid loader made a great place to sit and swing your legs for these preschoolers. “We put together a slide show with interactive videos for the children to watch before the event and a checklist for them to do while exploring the vehicles,” Head Start teacher Mariah Darbe said.

children sit in bucket of skid loader
Although many Head Start students ride a bus to school, they seldom get to ride in a “big bus.” This rare treat capped off the Touch A Truck event and made one boy say “This is the best day ever.” boys in school bus
Little hands were eager to touch every piece of machinery in the parking lot, whether it was a huge hook on a backhoe or the smooth side of a gleaming white limousine (pictured below). girl touches large hook

Students weren’t the only ones excited by the Touch-a-Truck event. “Lots of parents came to help the kids walk through the event and study the vehicles,” Head Start teacher Mariah Darbe said. “They didn’t want to miss an experience like this!”

Photos by Marlene Colgan

girl in limousine
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