Toddler Car Wash

 Roll on up to the CAR WASH - toddler operated at Kids Play Space! This is seriously one of the simplest, most fun, outdoor activities for kids to get stuck into - especially if, like B, they are totally into all 'things that go'! It takes all of 2 minutes to set up, and there are so many benefits from kids getting involved in their own car wash station. 

The Set Up

"Absolutely nothing fancy!"
  • A small space (-trust me, our outdoor area is extremely limited, and hardly any room is required at all for the activity to still be a great success!)
  • A tub of water
  • A soap dispenser - with soap (or dish wash liquid, or vinegar and bicarbonate of soda...)
  • Something (or a few options) to wash with: eg. a sponge, cloth, scrubber brush, metallic scrubber ...)
  • Various 'pourers' (we used a couple of little water cans, a little jug, and a bucket)
  • One or more vehicles needing some toddler car wash love and attention!
Fun optional extras: 
  • A drink and snack for the hard working car washer
  • Some cool car wash music
  • Gumboots or bare feet to enjoy the water underfoot
  • Invite a mate or two over for a car wash play date!
The Benefits
  • A sense of responsibility, independence and pride in being helpful - cleaning is a great life skill to practise early on!
  • Fresh air from being outdoors
  • Learning about water (the value of water play cannot be underestimated)
  • Hand skill development (grasping, strength, bilateral coordination - filling, pouring, scrubbing, wiping, squeezing, manipulating...)
  • Imaginative play
  • as well as a whole bunch of sensory experiences-->
Tactile sensory fun
  • Getting hands, fingers, arms and feet immersed in the water (cold, warm, bubbly...)
  • Watching and feeling the soft bubbles move and disintegrate
  • Mixing the smooth soap into the water
  • Squishing and squelching the different sponge textures (soft, metallic, bristles, spongy...)
Proprioceptive sensory fun
  • Lifting and pushing the trucks and cars around and into position
  • Squeezing all the water really tightly out of the sponges
  • Scrubbing the dirt off the trucks with a bit of force and effort
  • Stomping in the puddles created!
Kinesthetic sensory fun
  • Lots of moving about during the activity! This is not a lazy, sit back and passively watch the trucks wash themselves by some wizz-bang-battery-operated toy... car washing involves loads of active movement - busily going to and fro gathering required bits, squatting, getting out of the way of the water (or in amongst it?!), balancing, stabilising, and positioning, swirling the soap into the water vigorously...
Olfactory sensory fun
  • What is in the soap dispenser? Maybe some lemon, lime or orange peel? Some essential oil? or just an interesting scent from the soap itself? (We've got onto this cheap, awesome, peppermint dish wash liquid which smells fantastic!)
Auditory sensory fun
  • Crash! Tip! Roll - bump - bump... !
  • Splash! Spill! Swirl! Drip!
  • Squeak! 
  • "BEEP BEEP"!!
  • Singing and bopping along to the work site music!
.. and taste...

Well, that's where the outdoor snack or picnic comes in!!

Young B has got into the car washing spirit many times - and it remains one of his favourite kids' play spaces! I'm always really impressed with his care and attention to detail! Sometimes he likes to get the job done quickly, and move onto playing something else, and other times, he can be happily car washing for 30-60minutes or so!

I just love sitting back (or quietly getting about my own chores in the background), and watching the scene unfold! The trucks all need to be lined up to wait their turn (this kiddo runs one super organised car wash!!) Some of the vehicles have the best personalities and sometimes, all the washing and cleaning carry on makes them pretty tired, in which case, the activity wraps up with the trucks having a little sleep... "shhhh!"

Have you set up a kids' car wash?

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Thanks for visiting Kids' Play Space,
Happy playing!
'til soon,

Anna :-)  

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  1. Beautiful, Anna! We're waiting for the weather to warm up a little more here! This is always a great way to wash away the winter grime and start fresh for spring!

    1. Thank you so much Jackie! We love Spring cleaning!! (Even if it is Autumn here;-) - it's the perfect weather for it!)

  2. I love how a simple it is but so much learning and fun! This is a great way to cool off on a hot summer day!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Emma! I am a huge fan of simple!! Anna :-)

  3. Perfect for a summer day! We've had a car wash of sorts, and it has always been a bit hit!

    1. Too true - Summer's day car wash is best for sure! Thanks for visiting Kids Play Space! Anna ;-)

  4. This looks fun, and made me all nostalgic about having a big yellow toy truck just like one of the ones in the pictures!


    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Jonathan! ... every kid needs a big yellow truck:-) We were so lucky - one was a gift for our son, and the other two I found left out as hard rubbish on someone's front lawn, slightly unloved and broken! (Nothing a bit of electrical tape and a car wash couldn't fix!)

  5. This is a great idea! Little Man would love it. Fab photos too! Thanks for sharing at the Outdoor Play Party :-)

    1. Thank you so much Leila! (I love the Outdoor Play Party!!)


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