Summer Fun Activity: Let's Have an Outdoor Car Wash
Warm days make perfect occasions to take dramatic play outdoors
- Grades: PreK–K
SKILLS: Children practice fine and gross motor skills as they act out holding a car wash.
- play trucks, wagons, tricycles
- soapy and clean water
- large sponges, old towels
- chart paper, crayons
IN ADVANCE: Talk about car washes. Invite children to talk about times they helped wash cars at home or took a ride through a car wash. Together list the steps involved in washing a car and write these down on an experience chart. Number your steps to help children see that there is a real sequence of events that needs to be followed.
1 Explain that today during outdoor time everyone will have a chance to wash the outdoor riding toys in a toy wash. First, brainstorm a list of the things you'll need. If children are having problems naming things, ask, "What will we need to dry off the toys?" or "What can we use to take the soapy water off?"
2 Go outside and organize the event by marking off the space where the activity will take place. Help children set up the sequence, starting with the soapy water, then rinsing and finally drying. (You may even want to bring your experience chart outside so everyone can refer to it.) Ask children what jobs they want to do in the sequence and then later encourage them to trade jobs with one another.
3 When everything is set up, ask the "drivers" to bring vehicles into a line to start the wash. If possible, take before and after photos of the vehicle, along with some pictures of children doing the washing.
4 When finished, ask, "What can we do to help keep our riding toys clean each day?" "What do you do to keep your toys clean and in good condition at home?" "Where do you store your toys?" "Which are your favorites?" "Why are they your favorites?"
For younger children: Be sure to provide large plastic aprons children can wear as they enjoy this toy-washing activity.
For older children: Invite children to imagine that sponges and towels were not available to use as washing and drying tools. What might children substitute? How would the substitutes work?
Use the pictures you took during the wash to create a Toy Washing 101 instruction book. Invite children to put the photos in the proper order. Once they are in order, record what children say as they describe the steps they took to wash the toys.
Car Wash by Susan Steen (Puffin, 2003; $6.99)
Car Wash Kid by Cathy Coldberg Fishman (Scholastic, 2003; $4.95)
The Scrubbly Bubbly Car Wash by Irene O'Carden (HarperCollins, 2003; $15.99)