44 Open-ended Questions to ask when Children Play with Cars


Toy cars and other vehicles are a wonderful way to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). There is a connection between real life and play. Children can learn about engineering and design, positions in space, wheels and axles, force and motion, speed, friction, and ramps as they develop fine motor skills. Adults support learning by observing children doing something that interests them and posing open-ended questions that get their little minds processing during exploratory play. With open-ended questions, children are invited to observe, think critically, speak, experiment, and problem-solve, rather than respond with short one word answers like, yes, no, yellow, or blue. Here are a number of open-ended questions that can promote scientific thinking, encourage children to extend learning, and develop language and literacy skills as children make little discoveries along the way.


Be sure to give the children plenty of time to think and experiment after you ask. Let them take the lead. Observe and listen. Let them play before you ask. The goal is not to bombard them with questions. You may not need to ask any questions at all.

  1. What do you notice about your car?

  2. Why did you choose that car? What do you like about it?

  3. Describe your car. What does it look like?

  4. How does your car work?

  5. Where else have you seen something that moves this way?

  6. Where else can you find things with parts that spin around? (doorknob, fan blade, water faucet, can opener, steering wheel, hoist/pulley, Ferris wheel, etc.)

  7. What other things can your car do?

  8. How can your car help you transport things?

  9. What other things can you use to transport objects?

  10. How are the cars/vehicles different/the same?

  11. How can we organize these?

  12. Describe other parts your car has wheels/doors/windows/an engine?

  13. How do you think a wheel works?

  14. How do you think the other parts work?

  15. We see wheels on things like strollers, wagons, roller skates, bikes, and buses. How do you think wheels help us?

  16. How are you making the car move?

  17. What happens before/when/after you let go?

  18. How else can you make the car move?

19. Why do you think the car moves that way?

20. How can you make the car go faster/slower?

21. Why did the cars crash?

22. What do you think will happen if the cars keep crashing?

23. How can you tell how far your car went?

24. Why does your car go far sometimes, but not other times?

25. How do you know which car rolled farther?

26. What did you do differently that time?

27. How/Why do you think the car changes direction?

28. How can you get your car to turn/change direction?

29. What happens when you add a load to the car?

30. What if you rolled your car on a ramp?

31. What happens when your car gets to the bottom?

32. How can you change what happens when your car gets to the bottom?

33. What would happen if you lifted/lowered the ramp?

34. What if you rolled your car on a flat/smooth/rough/wet/soft/hard surface?

35. How could you get the car to roll up to the top?

36. How can you get your car to pull another car?

37. How can you change it so it can carry more?

38. What if you used a different car/vehicle?

39. What if the car didn’t have any wheels?

40. What if you wanted to build a wheel that rolls? How would you do it?

41. How would you build a garage/road/bridge/lift for your car?

42. What did you use to build your garage/road/bridge/lift?

43. Show me how you would design a new car.

44. What would your new car look like?

Angela Russ-Ayon is a mom-preneur, children’s author, interactive trainer on the subject of early childhood, and award-winning artist/producer of music for young children. She presents educational strategies to child care providers, parents, and teachers nationwide for AEYCs, R & Rs, and the like. She is a member of the Recording Academy and is the sole owner of Russ InVision Records. For more information on Angela, her workshops, and accomplishments you are welcome to visit www.abridgeclub.com. © 2020, Russ InVision. All rights reserved.

For information: Contact: Angela Russ-Ayon

Phone: 562-421-1836

E-mail: info@abridgeclub.com

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