Ideas for the Classroom
- Basic truck vocabulary
- Headlights – Lights on the front of a truck that help the driver see in the dark and in bad weather
- Tires – A ring made of rubber that goes around the wheel. Today, tires are usually full of compressed air, but the first tires were made of solid rubber.
- Cab/Tractor – The front part of the truck where the driver sits
- Trailer – The part of the truck that carries goods. It sits behind the cab.
- Engine – A machine that uses fuel to make the truck go.
- Different truck names
Trucks go by several names – tractor trailer, big rig, semi-truck (or just semi), and 18-wheeler. Check out this song about the different names of trucks.
Goods are things that can be bought and sold. What kinds of goods do semi-trucks haul? (Toys, machines, computers, books, food, cars, mattresses, crayons, clothing, desks, paper, etc.) Explain to students that everything they buy has traveled on a semi-truck to the store. Some items come all the way across the country on a semi-truck. Other items might travel part of the way by boat or train, but the semi-truck must pick up the items from the port or train station to carry it the rest of the way to the store. Use this presentation or the video below to illustrate how goods get from one place to another (Presentation falls under Iowa Standard SS.1.18. Use a map to detail the journey of particular people, goods, or ideas as they move from place to place.)
- The many purposes of trucks
Trucks are used for many purposes. Some carry goods – or things that can be bought and sold – all across the country! Other trucks are used by community helpers like police officers, firefighters, and trash collectors to help them do their job. There are trucks that help people move from one house to another. Some trucks even pull houses themselves! People can use trucks to do special purposes like mix cement, dig holes, and tow vehicles that have broken down. Can you think of any other purposes trucks have? Use this presentation or watch the video below to learn about some of the many purposes the trucks in our collection have fulfilled.
- 1930 Ford Model A Snowmobile
If you can’t visit the museum in person, click here for a picture of the 1930 Ford Model A to show the class. You can also read more information about it here. The 1930 Ford Model A was a mail truck. It had skis instead of wheels on the front so that it could deliver mail in snowy areas without getting stuck. What colors do you see on this truck? (Green and black). The truck is green and black because those were the official colors of the post office back then. What colors are mail trucks today? (White, blue, and red)
- Fun facts
Ask student these fun fact questions.
- Self-service vs full-service gas stations
Self-service is serving oneself so this means that you would fill up your own gas tank, like you’ve probably seen a grownup do. At a full-service station, someone who works at the gas station pumps the gas for you. In New Jersey and parts of Oregon, the law says that you are not allowed to pump your own gas. They are the last two full-service states in our country.
- Make No Bake Semi Cookies
- Color a picture of one of the trucks from our collection
- Draw and write about your favorite truck. Have sharing time!
- Try your hand at these math problems*
*These worksheets are based on Iowa Core Standards. Click here to see the standards that correspond to each worksheet.
- A Big Assist: Tripp Wheeler Adventures (2020) by Linda Hagopian, Debbie Ruane Sparks, and Kenny Kiernan
- Big Joe’s Trailer Truck (1974) by Joe Mathieu
- Big Rig (2014) by Jamie A. Swenson and Ned Young
- Big Rig Rescue (2021) by Chris Gall
- The Red, White and Blue Party: Tripp Wheeler Adventures (2019) by Linda Hagopian, Debbie Ruane Sparks, and Kenny Kiernan
- Trucker and Train (2019) by Hannah Stark and Bob Kolar
- With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Truck (2016) by David Friend and Michael Rex
*If you can’t obtain a physical copy, you can find and watch a video of the book being read on YouTube.
Ideas for Your Visit
- Count the number of trucks with trailers. Also, count the number of trucks without trailers.
- Count the number of trucks that are a certain color. Feel free to use this tally sheet to keep track! The most common colors are red and green.
- Trucks from the early 1900s to trucks today
Look through the large window in the lobby to see some modern trucks passing through. Talk about some of the differences between trucks today and trucks from the past century. You can pick out a specific truck in our collection to make the comparison if you’d like. (Speed, design, size, modern comforts)
- Antique and modern gas pumps
We have several antique gas pumps in our lobby. You can see that many of them have glass tops, use a hand-crank, are different colors, and may only have one nozzle.
The trucks in our collection have a variety of wheels. Take for instance the 1910 Avery. Instead of tires, it has removable wood plugs. Both our 1913 VIM and 1918 VIM have completely white tires. The 1919 International Harvester has white-wall tires. Several trucks in the collection have solid rubber tires. Our 1903 Eldridge and 1921 International Harvester have wood spokes while many others in the collection have metal ones. The 1930 Ford Model A Snowmobile has cogged tires on the back.
- 1916 Mack AC, 1936 Mack BM, 1955 Mack LTL, and 1964 Mack B-873SX
The truck brand with the most examples on display in the museum is Mack. There are trucks from many different years throughout the century. Compare two or more of the trucks listed above or chose two other trucks of the same brand that are currently on display.
- 1927 Fisher Jr. Express and the 1954 Fageol Van
These are two examples of moving trucks from different decades. Talk about the differences in design, size, etc.