Your preschooler is learning her letters and numbers, but she won't sit still and work with her magnetic alphabet. You pull out the beautiful hand-painted blocks she received at Christmas, but she'd rather build and destroy towers than study the letter P and the plant/peanut/pear/parrot. When you try to count the blocks, she grabs one and throws it at the cat or just walks away. Clearly, she needs to burn some energy, but how might you get a little exercise for that little head in addition to that little body?

Take the learning outside! Walk down the block. Look at the cars. The curbside is a row of classrooms on wheels, and you can point out the features for every vehicle you pass (or every one that passes you):

Colors
Black sedan, white convertible, green truck... just about every color on the planet has been spray-painted onto moving metal. It's also an opportunity to distinguish between light and dark, metallic and flat. Make it a little more challenging in a game-show way; point at the automobiles about to drive by and ask, "What's that color?" Your child gets a "point" for a correct answer before the car goes past.

Letters and numbers
License plates are at an excellent height for youngster visibility and reach. Ask your child to point to each plate letter and number and recite them aloud. If you don't mind the dust, let your child run his fingers over the raised metal. Incorporating as many sense as possible helps to retain information. Tracing the letters and numbers helps with writing them later.

Shapes and logos
Wheels are circles. Windows are rectangles, and some cars still sport those small triangle windows in the front or back. Car emblems come in all shapes and sizes: the three ovals for Toyota and the single one for Ford. Take the opportunity to show your child four quarters make up a BMW logo, and Mercedes consist of thirds.

Maybe because they can't drive them yet, kids are fascinated by cars. They absorb details like police officers and spit back the correct information at random. So put down the blocks and walk down the block. You'll be amazed at all the lessons waiting there.