Educational Activities for Mr Gumpys Motor Car by John Burningham

“Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car” is the second book about Mr. Gumpy and is a gentle read, by John Burningham. Appealing to both boys and girls it is ideal for young children and the activities below are based on the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.  

Communication and language

The children can talk about aspects of the book such as who the main character is and his personality such as kind and generous. If they have read Mr. Gumpy’s Outing they can decide which one they prefer and parts of the books that are the same and different. These can be noted by the teacher in a whole carpet or small group session. 


In the writing area, young children can create their own books or messages to Mr. Gumpy. The car can be labelled where children cut and stick the labels with adult help or try and write the words phonetically linking sounds to the letters.  In the reading area, both non-fiction and fiction books about cars, journeys or by John Burningham will help bring meaning to the story.


“Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car” allows children to improve their numeracy skills. The characters who travel with Mr. Gumpy can be counted. Addition and subtraction sums can be made up using toy cars or animals for children who need practical help adding and subtracting. In the book the shapes on a page can be observed. For example on the first page before Mr. Gumpy sets off the children can share the different shapes they can see such as circular wheels and square windows.  

Understanding the world

The car in the picture is old fashioned. The children can the internet or books to look at examples of old and new cars, or make their own model cars using the construction area. They can talk about the cars they have or see on their journey to school.

Expressive arts and design

Children can use the construction area to make their own cars, either small models or use the large blocks to build something they can sit in. Painting the characters or the car is another way of using creativity to bring the story to life and give meaning to the text. The weather changes in the book and sunny and wet weather scenes can also be created. Choosing children to mime or re-enact the story will help to assess if the story has been understood.

Physical Development

If there are children’s cars in the playground a route can be set up that the children have to drive, based on the story, such as a mock field, or road. This will give children an awareness of the environment around them, taking care how they move around the outside play area.

Personal, social and emotional development

In the book some of the characters are selfish at first when they make up excuses for not helping Mr. Gumpy. The class can think about what Mr. Gumpy felt when nobody wanted to help him. When joining in with either role play or outdoor physical development the class will have the chance to think of others and to be encouraged when they achieve successes.

In conclusion, “Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car” provides a wide range of ideas for activities for young children. The story will no doubt inspire the children to think of their own activities when choosing the different areas to explore in the classroom.