Guest Post by Erin of Bambini Travel
At Bambini Travel, we believe in providing young children with real life experiences and building on these experiences through books, songs, and activities at home. Together adventures and hands-on activities help young children make sense of the world and build connections. Here is how we used the Car Wash to build further understand about one of our favorite forms of transportation.
Before Our Adventure:
We usually start with a few books. Our absolute favorite before this adventure was Car Wash by Sandra Steen & Susan Steen. After we read the book a couple of times, we talked about what to expect at the car wash. (The procedure, the darkness, the loud noises, the bubbles, etc).
Tips for Visiting a Car Wash with Children:
- State any expectations – ex. staying in their seats with their seat belts fastened.
- Scope out your car before the car wash and afterwards with your child. Helps if your car is particularly dirty!
- Be prepared that your child may feel nervous. Model calm enthusiasm, but realize that the darkness or noises might freak them out a little. If they do get upset, stay calm and offer to hold their hand while you explain again what is happening. Bringing a stuffed animal along to see the car wash might also be a comfort if the need arises.
- Plan your car wash for a less busy time. Especially avoid the first warm day of winter.
- Talk to your child while you are waiting in line and if they get nervous, but otherwise allow them the time and space to process what they are seeing. You can have lots of conversations afterwards.
After Your Adventure:
The key to making your adventures – big or small – meaningful is what you do after. Indeed, conversations that practice new vocabulary and verbally process what you heard and saw is important. We also plan a couple of hands-on activities for home that will further expand on their knowledge.
Here are two quick activities for after the Car Wash…
Toddler Car Wash:
Repetition and dramatic play are two of the best ways for toddlers to learn. Relive your exciting adventure with your own car wash.
Car (Yours is obviously sparkling clean, but maybe you have another car or there’s a neighbor/grandparent willing to donate their muddy car to a worthy cause?)
Get your swimsuits on, fill your bowls with soapy water, and carry your supplies out to the car. Encourage them to wash the whole car. Focus on naming parts of the car. For example, “I see you are washing the bumper” or “That handle is looking very clean, what could you wash next?” This will not be a perfect car wash, but it is good soapy fun that develops gross motor skills, builds vocabulary, and further cements understanding.
Gluing Shape Cars
This activity is another chance to talk about the parts of a car.
Copy of Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia
Scissors (for adult use)
Beforehand, cut out basic car shapes, circles for wheels, rectangles for windows.
This activity could be done without the book, but it is the perfect book for any car loving toddler. Garcia combines the toddler love of cars and car noises with an introduction to a wide range of transportation, color, and size vocabulary. After reading this book many, many, times, we made our own cars based on the simple illustrations in this book.
Focus on supporting fine motor skills and practicing vocabulary words (window, tire, circle, etc.), don’t worry about them looking like cars. Proudly display your child’s creations!
I hope you are feeling inspired to get out and experience the world through little, curious eyes!
Erin Buhr is the co-creator of Bambini Travel. She has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and worked with young children for 10 years before deciding to stay home with her own children. She currently spends her days exploring and creating with her two year old twins.