Car Painting & Small-World Car Wash

The Boy loves painting and I try often to vary the equipment I give him so that he is able to experience the way that paint works and how it can be manipulated. We've used the traditional brushes, delved into printing with sponges and making our own tile prints, and about a month ago I decided to see what he thought of using his little Hot Wheels cars to make patterns.

To prepare for some free painting play, I:

  • put out three dishes out for him with green, yellow and blue paint in,
  • gave him a variety of different small world vehicle,
  • taped down an eight foot length of paper onto the kitchen floor.

We had great fun investigating the different tyre tracks on each vehicle, testing to see which was the most effective coloured paint for getting distinct tyre prints onto the paper, and even bordered into some science when we realised that the heavier vehicle were more effective at leaving tyre patterns. The Boy loved looking to see how the wet paints were crossing over and mixing to create new shades of green, etc. In total we spent about an hour zooming the cars back and for; the artwork is still taped to my kitchen wall because I love the colours in it so much.

Painting with toy cars

I'd already thought about the fact that I didn't want to be spending ages scouring his car afterwards, and had enlisted the help of some basic cleaning sponges and his Step2 water table to create a car wash for him. One of the simplest activities that he likes to do is go to the car wash and see the coloured foam squirt all over the car before various brushes, rollers and sponge strips clean the car.

I decided to recreate this using:

  • cheap shaving foam
  • a few drops of food colouring
  • Blu-Tack
  • double-sided tape
  • sponge scourers
  • round plastic scourers
  • a thin sponge wipe (which I cut long strips into to create the drying and buffing curtainat the end of the car wash, we call them the 'kisses')
  • Playmobil figures

The Step2 water table we have has two different levels with a slope connecting them. I filled the top level with shaving foam and a few drops of food colouring to create the foam of a car wash. Near to the entrance of the slope to the lower level I Blu-tacked some round plastic scourers, and at the top of the sponge I placed some sponge scourers; both designed to rub the dirt off. At the bottom of the slope I hung the sponge wipe 'curtain'. The lower level of the table was filled with water to rinse the cars off.

I placed a few of his Playmobil figures at strategic points with small sponges in their hands and invited him to clean his paint-laden cars off.

Small World car wash

The Boy happily played with his car wash for well over another hour, in fact he got his cars covered in paint repeatedly so he could wash them all off again. Water play is always such fun but sometimes he gets bored when it lacks focus. He also won't go anywhere near messy play if I present it to him as a dedicated messy play activity. However, the format of the car wash enabled him to experience both messy play and then wash the shaving foam off in the water if it became too much for him to bear.

Car Painting & Small World Car Wash

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  1. says

    I've seen the hot wheels idea on Jennie's blog (Edspire) a while ago and I love that she came up with such simple, yet fun idea for messy play. Glad that it also inspired you to get the Boy more involved with messy play activities. I still have to psych myself up for that 😉

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Hiya, thanks for your comment but I actually did this activity at the beginning of February and I don't think Jennie had done this then. It's just taken me a while to blog it.

  2. says

    PS – Meant to say that I love seeing all the different ways you use your water table as we have the same one and it only really ever has water in it x x x x

  3. says

    We tried painting with cars with my eldest and she really enjoyed it, it's great fun isn't it! I love your idea of the car wash-my son is obsessed with cars and 'cleaning' them. Up til now we've only ever done things with plastic cars at bath time, but I think we'll give the car wash a go. If we have some nice weather (?!) I can see this working really well outside as my son loves to be outdoors as much as possible. Great idea to use the water table-must rescue ours from the bush in the garden!!


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