My son loves to play, build, and race his toy cars. One day, I asked him if he wanted to have a car wash after seeing this activity on the Internet. I remember looking at this activity and thinking this would be a great idea for a kid who likes cars.

I had several reasons for suggesting the car wash. First, this activity was a fun way to encourage my son to practice his penmanship. The weekend we did the activity, it was raining. I was trying to find something hands-on to do in the house; although, a car wash is really fun when doing it outside on a sunny day. Furthermore, I wanted to incorporate three things that interest my son which are cars, counting, and getting messy.

Our Car Wash incorporated fun and so many aspects of hands-on learning. I thought I would share this activity with you so your kids can have as much fun as my son.

Let’s Get Started

Materials:

  • Big sheet of poster board or white craft paper
  • Toy Cars
  • Markers
  • Painters Tape
  • Towels (3)
  • Wash Cloth
  • Cash Register or Play Money (You may also make your own play money)
  • Two Rectangular Plastic Containers
  • Water
  • Dish Detergent
Some of the materials for the Car Wash

Preparation:

  • Have your child decide the Car Wash Prices.
  • If your child can write, have them write the car wash prices on the poster board or white craft paper.
  • My son decided to give each color car a different price.
  • If your child can’t write, you may create the Car Wash Price Sign for them.
  • You may have your child draw the various colored cars on the sign.
  • I created a template on construction paper to assist my son in organizing the Car Wash prices on the white craft paper.
My son writing the Car Wash Prices using the template I created on pink construction paper.
Continuing to write the prices
Car Wash Price Sign is complete.
  • Tape the Car Wash Prices to a wall where it is visible for customers.
Car Wash Prices taped to the wall.
  • Get the toy cars, cash register, wash cloth, and towels
  • Lay the towels on the floor if you are doing this in your home.
  • If you are outside, then you can skip this step.
  • Fill one rectangular plastic container with dish detergent and water halfway.
  • This is where you will wash the cars
  • Fill the other rectangular plastic container with water.
  • This is where you will rinse the cars.

Now the Car Wash can Begin!

  • Have your child role play the Car Wash owner.
  • You or your child’s siblings and/or friends can play the customers.
  • As a customer, get some play money so you can pay to get your car washed.
  • I started off with $30.00 divided into (10) one dollar bills, (2) five dollar bills, (1) ten dollar bill
My son giving me money to start the Car Wash Activity.
  • Have your child say the following:
  • “Welcome to the Car Wash, how may I help you?
  • You will respond by saying the following…
  • Yes, I would like to have my yellow cars washed please.”
  • Then your child will look at the poster they made to see how much it costs to wash the yellow cars.
  • On our poster, it costs $2.00 to wash the yellow cars.
  • I had three yellow cars, so I gave him $6.00 with (1) five dollar bill and (1) one dollar bill
Exchanging money during the Car Wash Activity
  • Sometimes I gave him more money than the cost of washing the car so he could practice his subtraction skills and give me change.
  • After giving my son the money, he took the cars and washed them.
  • He washed them in the soapy water container and then put them in the container with water to rinse.
  • Next he put them on the towel to dry.
My son washing the cars.
My son rinsing the cars.
  • We kept repeating these steps until all the cars were washed.
  • Another time we did this activity, I was the Car Wash Owner.
  • We have also done this activity where my son was the Cash Wash Owner for the red cars but I was the Cash Wash Owner for the blue cars.
  • In other words, we were alternating roles.
  • Tailor this activity to your child’s ability by doing the following…
    • Have your child wash only one car at a time so they don’t have to do any subtraction or addition.
    • Only give your child one dollar bills so they can practice counting by ones.
    • Make all the car wash prices the same to make things easier.

Subjects Learned in this Activity

Color Recognition

  • Sort the cars by colors.
  • Make different prices for each color car.
  • You may also have a car wash with one color car like the red cars.

Math

  • Adding the costs to wash multiple cars.
  • Subtracting when the customer gives the Car Wash Owner too much money and change is needed.
  • Multiplying the cost when multiple cars with the same price are needed to be washed

Science

  • We had some cars that would float in the water and some that would not
  • We discussed that cars with less density than the water will float.
  • Cars with more density than the water will sink.
  • We reviewed the word buoyancy, which is the ability to float in water.
  • You may discuss the science of soapy water and how it cleans the cars.
    • Soap attaches to dirt and grease and causes it to be pulled off the toy cars and suspended in the water

Writing

  • My son was able to practice his handwriting skills in creating the Car Wash Price Sign.

Customer Service

  • Teach your child the importance of being nice and respectful to their customer.
  • Also ensure your child knows to clean the cars well so the customer is happy.
  • If the customer is happy then they will bring more customers.

Entrepreneurship

  • Explain to your child that Entrepreneurs own businesses and their purpose is to solve problems or make things better.
  • A great business has happy customers who will tell others about their service or product.
  • Take your child to a real Car Wash and show them it is a Real Business.

Have fun with this activity and make this your own!

Happy Learning!

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24 thoughts on “Car Wash Fun for Kids – The Ultimate Learning Activity

  1. My kids have ‘washed toy cars’ before and had an absolute blast! But I’ve never thought of having them turn it into a store before. What a fantastic idea!!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am glad you like this activity! Have fun with it!

  2. What a fun learning activity as well as independent play activity. My little one is starting to love playing with the cash register at preschool so this would be fun for him.

    1. Thank you Julie for your comment. The cash register really made this activity come alive.

  3. I love this car wash activity! What a fun rainy day activity. It’s an activity that will keep them busy for longer than 5 minutes, with many lessons learned as well. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I am glad you like this activity!! Your boys will love it! Thank you for your comment.

    1. Keri thank you for comment. There is so much learning that goes with this activity. I am glad you like it.

  4. I really like this idea! I am always thinking of things to do with my kids on rainy days and this would be perfect to help pass the time. I also love that each color was a different price, very creative!

    1. Thank you Jaimie for your comment. Today it’s raining and we may do it again today!

  5. This is a great idea! I love that it has so many parts – color recognition, math, business, cleaning. I plan on doing this activity this weekend with my 2 and 4 year old.

  6. We used to do this with my daughter but I love how you have made this into a learning activity complete with car wash prices.

  7. This is amazing! what a great way to teach SO many lessons and skills in one activity. Not to mention this would take up an entire afternoon of fun. Great idea!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth for the comment. This activity kept my son busy for a while.

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