Have you tried painting with cars yet? If not, do it! Last week we made a rainbow painting with cars. It’s perfect for a preschool car theme or an afternoon of playful painting.
Ramps, race cars, rainbows…and paint! That was our recipe for a morning full of hands-on play and learning. And it was definitely a whole lot of fun!
See it in Action
We did this activity outdoors to make clean up easier. However, if you’ll be doing this outdoors check the weather first. It was a bit windy, and we eventually had to move into our garage to keep our materials from blowing away.
I set up two different options for painting. First I created a ramp using cardboard and a setup similar to the one we used for our painting with rocks activity. At the base of the ramp I put a cardboard box filled with something heavy. This helped keep the ramp from sliding down, and it also kept the cars from speeding out into the road.
This indoor ramp play idea from Buggy and Buddy reminded me how much fun ramp play is for kids, so I set up this first ramp to give the kids something to play with while I was setting out the other materials. They loved it!
Since our driveway is inclined I also set up a smaller painting surface by using the bottom of a large plastic storage container. This made it easier for our toddler friend to participate and it was still on an incline to allow him to experiment with the ramp.
I taped paper from an easel roll onto each ramp surface. Then I added washable tempera paint in a rainbow of colors. Our paint set didn’t include indigo, so we mixed blue and purple to make indigo. I chose to place all the paint in a straight line, but you could also set up your invitation to paint like Fun at Home with Kids did in their painting with cars activity. I love how their setup encouraged the creation of a very different finished product.
We don’t have a lot of cars, but our buddies went through their extensive collection of cars and brought us quite a few options to use for each color. This allowed the kids to see the different tracks made by different wheels. If you don’t have a lot of cars, maybe you have something else to use. Maybe you could paint with trains like our friends from Play Trains! If you are a classroom teacher or are planning this activity for a play date, you could also invite kids to each bring a vehicle to use.
On the large ramp the girls chose to take turns racing cars down the ramp. As they did so they were also doing a lot of learning. Not only were they observing what happened as some of the colors mixed together and exploring gravity in action, they were also learning about friction. The first few times they started rolling cars down the ramp they noticed that the cars moved slowly through the paint and then they started going really fast after they were on the plain paper.
As they created they were also learning about colors and one-to-one correspondence. Each time they raced the cars down they would go in order ROY G BIV. Then they would collect all the cars from the bottom of the ramp and match them up again with their paint spots at the starting line. I didn’t anticipate this amount of order in the process…I envisioned lots of cars flying down the ramp at the same time, so it was really interesting to see them approach this so methodically.
They were even practicing counting. Every now and then I would hear them count down from 10 to 1 before releasing their cars down the ramp.
When the girls were finished they had a very bright and colorful painting.
Our toddler buddy also had fun painting on his ramp, but he approached it toddler style. There was a lot more color mixing and he often chose to drive the same car through different colors, but he had fun. And he was counting along the way too. He preferred to say, “1, 2, 3, goooooo!”
He also finished with a beautiful painting.
And when you are all done racing cars to make your rainbow painting, don’t forget about the car wash! The kids had a ball cleaning their cars in the water table when they were done painting. And if you’re as lucky as me they’ll also clean themselves in the process of cleaning the cars.
Teaching a Car Theme? Get a Full Set of Car Theme Lesson Plans
Toy cars can lead to so much hands-on learning in preschool! This car theme pack includes editable lesson plans and hands-on activities for a week full of math, reading, & science learning activities inspired by cars. Watch this short video to see just a few examples of the types of activities and printables included in this set:
We’ve put all of our best car-inspired learning and play ideas into a set of lesson plans, activity descriptions, and printable resources. Save time planning for home preschool and grab your copy today.