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Creative Ways to Use Cars in Play Therapy

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Creative ways to use cars and hot wheels in play therapy

Many kids love to play with toy cars. However, as a counselor, it is important to know how to bring therapeutic value to the session when using various toys. The use of toys is a tool. To use the tools in therapy, you must be trained in how to use the tool. These are creative ideas for therapists who are knowledgeable in play therapy. If you work with young children, I highly recommend seeking play therapy training, as play is the language children use to communicate.

These creative ideas are provided to give inspiration for how to use a child's favorite toys in a therapeutic way in counseling sessions. There are way too many ideas to include in this post, but these ideas stood out as inspirational and would be engaging for the children.

How to make a toy car launcher with popsicle sticks and rubber bands

by Go Science Girls

I know some kids who would love this one. They are all about launching cars off the table or across the room. You can use the analogy of launch to discuss times of being put in difficult situations, to address anxiety, or perhaps to discuss escape from a situation. The cars are simply the tool to open the dialogue or to allow the child to tell a story.

Make a toy car wash with a cardboard box, toilet paper rolls, and tissue paper

by Creative Monsoon

This is so fun! Creating the car wash would likely provide an opportunity to explore frustration tolerance. Kids could explore problem-solving skills, communication, and engage in creativity.

Create an easy racetrack for toy cars on the floor

by The Pinning Mama

Creating a track would help kids with impulse control, focus, attention, and problem-solving. You can create a scene or give intensity to the play by creating a play crisis, such as the car is trying to get away from a dinosaur or monster. You could throw pom poms or obstacles in the way, triggering the need to overcome challenges in the play.

printable roads for play therapy with cars

by Pickle Bums

If you don't want to put tape on your floor, this would be a good alternative. These are cute and you could use as many as you'd like. Pull out your sand tray toys and you can set up a booming town to drive through!


Counseling interventions for brain education


Feelings parking lot therapy intervention

by Therapeutic Interventions

This intervention has children identify various difficult emotions they feel. The therapist then asks them how they would feel in a situation. The child would then park the car in the matching emotion space and discuss ways to feel better. Follow the link above for details on how it works.

Ranvir's 25 Car Hunt Challenge

by Life of Ranvir

This is a way to get kids outside and engaged in nature. Kids love to hunt for things. It would take a little bit of planning on the ability to go outside, but could be engaging and challenging. Challenges lead to the need to regulate emotions, look to others for guidance, and for positive feedback. This would be a great activity to track the child's behavior, reflect, and mirror.

How to make a racecar board game

by Frugal Fun 4 Boys

I'm a little partial to this one. I love making therapy games! You can write anything on it and make it as challenging as you would like. You can even customize the cards for the child. But never let your secret out! One of my little cheats in therapy is to ask a specific question and pretend it is on the card. I haven't been caught yet! I won't try it with kids who have developed good reading skills.

play mat with car parking for toy cars

by Mindy Makes

This one is cute and functional. The mat can be rolled out for kids to drive the cars on, then can be rolled up and hold the cars for storage.

use sensory dough to make a mud track for playing cars

by Stir the Wonder

Give kids the sense of mess in a controlled way with this bright idea. Sensory sand is good to have around. This is a new way to use it in play therapy.

Rescue the cars from the trap as a play therapy intervention

by Bright Little Brains

Rescuing the cars from being stuck can help children process anxiety and even process trauma through play. They have a small, controlled exposure to feelings of panic or concern and will give them a way to overcome these feelings by rescuing the cars. Play therapy is so powerful because kids can act out situations that trigger emotions in a safe way and gain mastery over their emotions.


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