Car Wash Fun for Kids – The Ultimate Learning Activity

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!

Don’t forget to check our two books, Teach your Toddler to Read Through Play and Fun and Easy Ways to Teach your Toddler to Write.

Happy Learning!

Please follow and like us:

Fun In Teaching Young Kids Real World Math

Life Skills is something that many parents teach their children. It helps them navigate through the real world. Incorporating math in life skill lessons is important because  it helps people, including children, to describe how the world works. 

For example, a child knows that if he/she has one cookie and their sibling has two cookies then there is a difference. If a child has played with a toy for 5 minutes and another child played with it for 15 minutes, they can feel the discrepancy. 

In the examples above, children are using mathematics on deciding how they should feel about certain situations. As adults, let’s encourage and foster their learning by building on their knowledge of using everyday math.

These activities below will show you how to do it in a fun way with your children!

Let Get started!

Everyday Math at the Grocery Store

  1. Take your child with you to the grocery store.
  2. Have the child pick a food item they would like to pay for.
    • It could be their favorite food to eat such as apple sauce.
  3. Give the child more than enough money to pay for the item they choose.
    • Account for taxes
    • If the apple sauce costs $2.00, give them $4.00.
  4. Ensure the child gets the correct change back.
  5. Explain to the child that food costs money.
  6. The extra money added on to the prices is for taxes which helps pay for schools, roads, and parks.
  7. Explain how you got the money by going to work, starting a business, etc.
  8. Repeat this activity and incorporate more food items.
    • Once your child is able, have them calculate their change.
    • They can also calculate how much money is needed to pay for the item.

 Everyday Math in the Kitchen

  1. Find a recipe, such as brownies or cookies, that uses measurements such as teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups (or any measurement you use for cooking).
  2. Have measuring spoons and cups available to represent the teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces and cups.
  3. Have the recipe and ingredients available.
  4. Make the baked goods with the child.
  5. Discuss the difference between 1/2 and a full cup (use the equivalencies below to help with the explanation).
    • Put a 1/2 cup of flour in 1 cup to show that it only fills up 1/2 the cup.
  6. Explain the difference between tablespoons and teaspoons (use the equivalencies below to help with the explanation).
    • Put 3 teaspoons of flour in 1 tablespoon to show that 1 tablespoon is 3 times 1 teaspoon.
  7. Compare other measurements based on the chart below.

Equivalencies chart

  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp.) = 3 teaspoons (tsp.) = 1/2 fluid ounce (fl.oz.) = 1/16 cup
  • 1 cup = 8 fl.oz.
  • 1 pint (pt.) = 2 cups = 16 fl. oz.
  • 1 quart (qt.) = 2 pt. = 4 cups = 32 fl. oz.
  • 1 pound (lb.) = 16 ounces (oz.)


Everyday Math While You Take a Trip

Has your child ever asked you “Are we there yet” while taking a trip? Use everyday math to answer this question.

There are two ways to do this. One way is with time.

  1. Let’s say your family takes a trip that will last one hour (60 minutes) to get to your destination.
  2. Just before leaving for your trip, show your child the time.
    • Let’s say you are leaving at 4:00pm.
  3. Tell your child, you will get to your destination when the 4 turns into a 5, which is 5:00pm.
  4. Check in with your child every 10 minutes and do a countdown.
    • For example, at 4:10pm tell your child you have 50 minutes to go.
    • At 4:20pm tell your child you have 40 minutes to go.
    • You can also do this every 15 or 20 minutes if you like.
  5. This helps to decrease the constant asking of “Are we there yet?”
  6. If you stop to use the restroom, explain to your child that this will add time on to the trip.

Another Way to do this is with Landmarks

  1. Let’s say you are driving on the Interstate and you are on Exit 1 but your destination is near Exit 20.
  2. Tell your child when you get to Exit 20, you will be at your destination.
  3. Pinpoint every 2 or 5 exits until you reach the end of your trip.
  4. Have your child identify the Exit Numbers.
    • For example, ask your child to tell you when you have reached Exit 4 and then Exit 6.
    • You have just created an important task for your child.
    • They are helping you navigate and they can sense how long the trip will be.
    • This is also helping with number recognition!

Everyday Math while at Home

Introduce your child to Mortgage or Rent Payment with this activity.

  1. Explain to your child that your house or apartment costs money.
  2. People who live in an apartment pay Rent to the owner of the building called the Landlord.
  3. People who own their home, usually get a loan from the bank and pay the bank back with Interest.
  4. You can skip steps 2 and 3 if you think this is too advanced for your child.
  5. Your child is going to pay you rent at the first of each month with play money for their bedroom or any other room in your home.
  6. If you want to get technical, calculate how much your child’s room is worth with the formula below.
    • Get a percentage of your child’s room by dividing your child’s room square footage by the apartment or home’s square footage.
    • For example, if your home is 1,200 square feet and your child’s bedroom is 200 square feet, then their bedroom takes up 16 percent of the home.
    • Now calculate how much of the rent your child’s room represents.
    • If your mortgage is $1600 a month, then your child’s rent would be $256 (which is 16% of $1600.
  7. If you don’t want to get too technical, then come up with a simple figure, like $100, that your child can pay you each month for rent.
  8. You can even have them earn play money daily by doing the following…
    • Pay them a certain amount each day for cleaning up or following the rules.
    • This money can be used to pay their rent.


I hope you and your child enjoy these simple activities!

A great resource for similar activities is The Everything Everyday Math Book: From Tipping To Taxes, All the Real-World, Everyday Math Skills You Need by Christopher Monahan

Happy Learning!


Please follow and like us: