Sunday, June 5, 2011

Washing Tires

 I've posted about our fun with tires a month ago. Unfortunately since then, our tires have been mostly ignored. 10 were being used as a balance beam in the shady part of the playground. The rest have been collecting dust and spiders right outside our gate, giving the playground a "junkyard" feel to it.

After my last post, I was re-inspired by some of the advice I received from Tracy Macaroni and Juliet (I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!).

The advice I recieved:

  • Paint the inside of the tires white to keep spiders from nesting in there. I like this idea because it would make snakes more visible if they do decide to hang out there. I bought some new paint (Glidden grey exterior primer and white primer and paint in one). 
  • Paint the exterior of the tires bright colors to keep them from getting too hot. We have some left over gloss paints from painting the classroom. I'm sure these will eventually come off, because they are not meant for outdoors, but we'll address that issue later. I plan on leaving some white and some grey, so the kids can use the tires as easels with acrylic paint, or even tempura paints.
  • Drill the sides of the tires to allow water to drain. I bought some new drill bits to drill some holes into the tires to keep them from collecting water. 
  • Use some for storage. This is a great option for hot, Arizona summer days. 
  • Use a large one to make an outdoor cozy area. They filled theirs up with sand, and built a teepee over it. Great idea! I was thinking of planting sunflowers in a semi-circle around a large tire to create natural shade. 
  • Bury some half way into the ground. I love this, but I don't think it's possible. We have grass in Arizona, which is very expensive and high-maintenance. :-( But we can cut some in half to make it look like they are buried half way (thanks Tracy), and the kids can crawl under them, over them, sit on them, and carry them around. I just need to find a really heavy duty knife!
Before we can paint, however, we had to clean the tires. 

The mission: 

Wash 25 tires in one morning.

The crew: 17 three year olds.

Materials: Sponges, dish detergent, buckets, and a hose. 

The activity lasted about 2 hours.

I knew this was coming. Buckets of sudsy water on the ground are just screaming for you to dip your feet in!

And of course, once you dip your feet in, you might as well sit in it!

Taryn sing-sang, "I can do this all day, I can do this all daaaay!"

I love how a three year old's body language is so telling. You don't have to see their faces to know they really want to get in, too! they do!

Here it is again: the three year old's fixation of dipping your forehead in a bucket of water! At this point, I had to remind myself that although we set out with my (adult) goal of getting the tires clean, this is still a process-oriented activity. I had to bite by tongue, and allow them to really explore the soap and water.

Look at their foreheads. haha...
A large part of the morning was spent splashing and swirling little hands in the soapy water. Others spent the morning tipping over the buckets and washing it wall splash out.

And out of 17 or so kids, I had 4 who consistently helped scrub the tires.

 This activity is good for:
  • Sensory experience: Children at this age are truly sensory beings. They learn by touching, seeing, smelling, hearing, and tasting. This experience allowed them to feel the slippery soapy water, the soft grass beneath their feet, the rubbery surface of a tire, the warm sun upon their backs, the light wind on a wet body, the feel of water dripping down their fore-heads, and sound of splashing water.
  • Large motor skills: When they scrubbed those tires, they were working the muscles in their arms, shoulders and back-- all muscles that are needed for writing later on. The more a child works those muscles, the sooner they will be able to write with a a pencil. When the child switched sponges from one hand to the other, or scrubbed across their mid-line, they are building connections between the left and right sides of their brain. Exercise is literally brain building.
  • Cooperative Play: During this activity, the children had to communicate with each other to reach desired goals. "Can I sit in there with you?" "Can I use your sponge?" "Let's tip the water over!" Any employer will tell you that communication skills, along with the ability to work cooperatively in a team setting is a desired quality in an employee. Kindergarten teachers ask that children enter their classroom with manners and the ability to communicate effectively with each other. 
That's it! I'm off to go paint some tires!

Happy playing!


  1. I LOVE this :). It looks like they had so much fun!

  2. Wish I had some tires to clean and play with! Looks like fun! Thanks for sharing on It's Playtime

    Rachele @ Messy Kids


Thanks for you comment! Happy playing!

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