Car Wash: Shaving Cream & Numbers, Oh My!

Kids go crazy for shaving cream! Most kids love cars,too. This activity combines both. This sensory activity combines pretend play with mathematics.

***If you are doing this activity with very young children, or children who may put their hands in their mouths,please consider substituting Cool Whip for shaving cream. Of course, check for allergies first. Cool Whip does not burn eyes, but shaving cream will!

First, let me say that this sensory activity can be a stand alone play exploration. Play for the sake of play is important! If you want to add another layer of interest, you might consider adapting this for mathematics learning. 

The premise of this activity: children will clean the cars in order to find the numeral on the bottom. They will match this numeral to the correct parking space. Several variations can be made to this game. See the end of this post for more ideas.

Setting up the activity:
1. Gather cars that your child would not mind getting wet.
2. Using a permanent marker, write numbers on the bottom of the cars. I wrote the numbers 1-10. I did find that I had to cover some of the numbers with clear nail polish (the shaving cream took the permanent marker off the shiny silver cars).

3. Using the permanent marker, write a ten frame on acheap tarp (I bought mine from the dollar store). These will be your “parking spaces.”
4. Set out a tub or bowl of water for rinsing the cars. Provide sponges and toothbrushes for cleaning.
5. This is the fun step! Cover the cars in shaving cream.
6. Invite your children to play.

Why is this activity beneficial?
  • Fine motor skills: Children are using different grasps to manipulate the cars, toothbrushes, and sponges.
  • Social skills and Communication: Children have to negotiate who will get to use which tool. Theywill need to take turns with the items. Older siblings can help younger siblings find the right parking space.
  • Mathematics: Number recognition and matching numerals.
How can this activity be adapted?
  • You can go beyond simply matching the numeral on the car to parking spot. Children can put the appropriate number of cars in each parking spot. For example, two cars would go in the 2 space, and five cars in the 5 space. 
  • Older children can combine numbers using addition and match the set of cars to the parking space sum. For example, car 3 and car 4 could both be parked in space 7 (3+4=7).
  • If you made a bigger parking lot, you could try the same with multiplications facts. 
  • If you have lots of cars, you could do this same activity with the alphabet.
Do not stress about making this activity ACADEMIC. Let the children explore the materials. The first time you present this activity, the children may not show an interest in matching the numbers to the parking spaces. They need time to become comfortable with the materials before they are ready to explore it in a new way. Maybe the next time you make this activity available, your children will be ready to try adding this new layer.

I I would love to know how you plan to incorporate this into your summer routine! Leave a comment below!

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