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“All of those cars were once just a dream in somebody's head.” Peter Gabriel, Mercy Street

Month

February 2016

Four of the Best Car TV Shows that Your Car Crazy Kid will Love

 

4 of the best car TV shows you can watch for free on YouTube

Good car TV shows are few and far between.  These are some of our favourite car TV shows from YouTube.

We actually don’t watch much TV and we have a pretty strict low tech approach with our Car Crazy Kid.  We don’t let him play with iPad’s, other tablets or our iPhones.

To be honest we’ve never needed to distract him with our phones when we’re out or at home.  The world is just a constantly changing road to a Car Crazy Kid with a couple of cars in his hand, his pocket, your pocket and your handbag.  There are roads everywhere that his cars just can’t wait to drive on. Cracks in pavements, patterns in upholstery fabric, bench seats and coffee tables all become roads for little cars or fingers. Embracing his car craziness really has allowed his imagination flourish.

Part of our reason for limiting TV and technology was the development of an eye tic and facial grimace that developed around 18 months old within days of us introducing TV. If he watched a lot of TV it got worse. We’d catch him doing in the rear view mirror and glance at each other in the car. So we stopped all TV and technology and it went away. It came back when we moved home to another state and we let him watch a lot of TV while we packed.

So we’re pretty picky about what we watch. We watch about 4-20 minutes each night as part of his part of his pre-bed wind down routine. We all sit on the couch together and watch all sorts of things like Sarah and Duck, Peppa Pig, Clangers and Ben and Holly.

But he regularly asks us to watch “something with cars in it that I’ve never, ever seen before”.

There’s a distinct preference towards “talking cars” as well.

In our world there are two types of cars, talking and normal. And there’s just not a lot out there and what there is tends to be really, really annoying. I can’t be the only mum who can’t stand the stupid music and voice overs in TV shows like Bob the Builder?

So we were on a mission to find some good car TV shows. We had a few requirements of our own: the voiceover or music couldn’t be too stupid and annoying and it mustn’t be too try hard educational or crazy and overstimulating.

The credit for finding these little gems actually goes to his nanna who hunted through YouTube and found the best. We love these car TV shows. Our Car Crazy Kid loves them even more. Some are 4 minutes long, others will run up to 40 minutes. All are freely available on YouTube to watch on your TV, tablet or phone when you’re out and about. Just type their name into the YouTube search bar or your favourite browser and you’ll find them all easily.

Dr Mac Wheelie

Dr Mac Wheelie is a female mechanic with a very interesting accent. You can choose your voice over language or watch the original with no speaking. It’s a great interactive way to spend time with your kid, talking about what you’re watching and wondering together what’s going to happen next.

Anyway, Dr Mac Wheelie is pretty cool and she fixes broken engines, tow trucks, monster trucks, race cars and even a tank. She has a robot helper called Handy and there is an episode where you see the good Doc design and build Handy. Each episode is about 4 minutes long. You can find the YouTube playlist of English narrated Dr Mac Wheelie here

Dr Mac WheelieCar Wash Compilation

Running at about a 49 minute viewing time this is what we watch during the day when he just needs to mong* out. Those hot, sticky, humid and cranky days where you just want to lose yourself in something. There are lots of shapes in it so it must be a bit educational! There’s no voice over or speaking.

Different vehicles drive into a car wash after you’re first shown how they became “absolutely filthy dirty”. You see the car progress through the car wash with the dirt slowly disappearing. There’s a police car, monster truck, fire engine and a whole heap more.

I find the background music is pretty annoying so we watch it with the sound turned down low. Perfect for when he just wants to mong* on a hot February day.

Here is the link to the free YouTube full length version of Car Wash Compilation

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Excavator Max

Follows Excavator Max and his buddy Toy Truck Leo. You’ll find the voice over narrator familiar if you’ve listened to the English version of Dr Mac Wheelie. There are lots of various trucks, cars and vehicles being assembled from parts in the back of Leo or found in a surprise egg hiding in the playground. There’s always a part missing that they search the playground to find. This really seems to tickle that need to pull things apart to have a look and figure out how they work and go together which seems so common in young boys especially.

The characters don’t speak and the narration is slow and gentle. Visually it’s also not too overstimulating and they seem to have gotten the background music just right in this one. Each episode is between 3 and 4 minutes long.

You can find the YouTube playlist for Excavator Max and Leo hereMax and leo

Fire Station Compilation

Another car TV show that is perfect mong* material but at 23 minutes is a much shorter length than Car Wash Compilation. Does this make it entry level mong material?

It’s basically a compilation of lots of shorter fire engine cartoons of about 3-4 minutes each. Lots of bright and bold visuals that aren’t overly stimulating. Music and sound effects are also a tad annoying but are bearable when the sound is turned right down low. There is no speaking or voiceover but there are some sight words in a small section that name the various fire truck parts.

You can watch Fire Station Compilation for free on YouTube here

Fire engine compilation

 

*To ‘mong’ – often described as quiet time but it’s actually a distinctly different state. Reading is not monging. Sometimes you’re just too tired to read but you’ve grown past the need to have day sleeps so instead you need to just mong for a bit. To mong means to assume a catatonic position and just stare – at ceilings or out of windows are common. It’s a bit like a power nap where you just check out for a bit.

As adults, when the need to mong appears we often drink coffee or consume sugar. Instead we should get our mong-on and have a power nap or watch a good movie. The world would be a better place for it.

 

This is not a paid endorsement of any kind. No payment received or favours given blah blah blah.  These are simply some damn good car TV shows found on YouTube for Car Crazy Kids!

 

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The Car Crazy Kid

Before Yagga Yagga came into our lives, cars never entered my mind in any meaningful way.  They were something that got me from A to B and peeved me off no end if ever had to stop and put petrol in them.  You could never impress me with the throaty roar of your 4 wheeled status symbol.  Back then I couldn’t tell a Hyundai from a Porsche or a KIA from a Kingswood.  They’re all just cars, big deal.

All of that changed when Yags grew old enough to manipulate objects with his hands and was given his first 4 wheeled toy.  I’m a big fan of natural learning so I try really hard not to influence how my son plays.  If I give him something he’s never seen before, I let him form his own relationship with it.  The first time I gave him crayons was slightly stressful until I found the packet and saw the great big non toxic emblazoning on the front, back and sides.

So no one showed him what to do with a toy car.  From the moment that aesthetically pleasing and tactile delight of a Steiner inspired wooden ‘car’ entered his chubby toddler hand our lives have been dominated by cars. And buses.  And trucks.  And trains.  Anything with wheels will do but I never mention the pink dolly pram while his dad is around.

carsThese days there are plenty of plastic and diecast hot wheels cars lined up alongside the hand crafted wooden heirloom vehicles.  With Steinerish roots and a bit of a hippy flavour to my mothering I’d envisioned myself spending delightful hours fashioning whimsical felt delights, baking gluten free high fibre muffins together or giggling as we blew dandelion seeds to the wind while learning the botanical names of the flowers, herbs and trees around us.  I never imagined that I’d be attending hill climb car rallies on Sunday’s and getting excited every time I saw a VW Campervan.  I’ve had to make adjustments.

Yeah I know all little boys and plenty of girls go through a car phase as toddlers and pre-schoolers.  In our house, the latest edition of Classic Cars Magazine is greeted with the same excitement as a new episode of Peppa Pig or a big packet of something sugary and delicious.  By the age of 3, Yagga Yagga had memorised the car badges on everything from a Bentley to a Toyota (we’ve taken him to some posh places while in the UK where he spotted his first real Bentley).  Car parks were like a trip to the baby animal petting zoo as he wandered around looking at the front and back of every car whilst exclaiming “Yook at yat car”.

We’ve had past day care providers “suggest” that we extend his interests to things other than cars and I admit to a period of being slightly concerned over whether his single minded obsession with cars was ‘normal’ but these days I just go with it.  I did try.  I bought him a dolls house that quickly became a multi level car park for his favourite posse of 4 wheeled delights.

I’ve relaxed and embraced his love of cars, now that he’s fully verbal, listening to the conversations that this cars have with each while he’s totally and utterly immersed in his car-centric little play world I realise that his cars are to him what dolls are to little girls (yeah yeah, and some boys too – I’m not trying to reinforce gender biases, things just are what they are).

This blog is my journey with Yagga-Yagga (not his real name), my totally and utterly Car Crazy Kid. 

As a work from home mum with plans to not just home school but to Unschool, I’m continually looking for car related toys and experiences to inspire and facilitate natural learning and to encourage independent, active, creative and imaginative play – both for his enjoyment and development but also to give me decent chunks of uninterrupted time to get my paid work done.  This blog allows me to share these ideas with the parents and carers of other Car Crazy Kids.

“Gentlemen, start your engines….”

 

Printable Roads: My Fave Free Car Games for Kids

Rainy day ideas for Car Crazy Kids

When I first discovered the world of free printables online, I admit I went a bit crazy myself.  There are so many amazing free car games for kids that you can simply print out at home for instant play and entertainment.  The toner in our laser printer copped a boot camp style workout and our  bargain laminator that we picked from Aldi recently has also been working overtime with all of these free printables.

When you have a Car Crazy Kid, roads in every form imaginable fill your waking and dreaming hours.  I’ve spent a fortune on various toys, roads and play mats to facilitate imaginative car play so it’s nice to come across some free car games for kids obsessed by wheels.

Here’s my Car Crazy Kid’s favourite top 3 printable roads

Picklebum’s Printable Roads

These are by far our favourite printable roads.  There are also some really cool printable street signs and traffic lights too.  There are so many things to love about these simple roads.  They can also be a great scissor practice exercise for older kids to cut out.

We printed ours on regular printer paper and then I laminated them as at the moment most of the Car Crazy Kids games end in total annihilation, destruction and spectacular road mangling car crashes.  The lamination saves our poor printer from working too much overtime. The downside with laminating them is that they slide around but this is easily fixed with a small piece of tape connecting each road together.

These printable roads worked for a while as stand alone road play props but their real beauty has been as highways joining other play roads around the house.  A little bit of effort to set up but we had several days straight play from these.  Like our car play mats, I rotate these type of roads to keep things fresh, so our Picklebum roads and road signs are currently on a rotation hiatus in the cupboard ready to re-excite in a few weeks time.   You’ll find Picklebum’s free printable roads here.

Highway numbers from Make Learning Fun

My Car Crazy Kid has become totally obsessed with numbers recently, almost to the point that we thought of changing his name to The Count.  He LOVED these number shaped roads.  I printed and then laminated for longevity.  They also have alphabet letters in upper and lower case which have also been printed and laminated.

As wonderfully educational as these roads look to adults, they didn’t spark the same level of open ended imaginary car play that plain roads and car play mats seem to stimulate.  Although the excitement level was super high, it wasn’t long lasting.  You can find the highway numbers and letters from Make Learning Fun here.

Disney’s Cars Radiator Springs Play Set

We have a set of mini plastic Car’s cars that I mistakenly bought off Ebay last year thinking that they were the normal diecast style and size.  They have been a firm favourite with the Car Crazy Kid ever since.  This free printable Radiator Springs play road works perfectly with these mini Cars.  Like the others, the road has been laminated for longevity and is the perfect size for travelling.  We haven’t printed off the mini paper car figurines that come as part of it but will do so the next time we have a long trip ahead of us.

Like the highway numbers, this printable road doesn’t inspire the marathon play sessions that other roads do, but when it’s been tucked away for a while it’ll easily give us an extra 30 minutes in bed on the weekend.  I simply leave it on the bedside table with his mini cars so it’s there ready for when the Car Crazy Kid comes in for his morning snuggle.  Dad’s feet at the end of the bed become Foot Mountain for some extended value added play time and extra snoozing.  You can find the free printable Radiator Springs play set here.

 

* this is not a sponsored post in any way.  I’ve downloaded and printed a LOT of free car games for kids and these free printable roads have been big hits in our house with the Car Crazy Kid so I’m simply sharing the love.  Oh, and they’re free!

 

DIY Car Play Mat

Create Your Own Car Play Mats at Home

Home drawn car play mat

Car play mats are super awesome.  We own several of them.  But there are a couple of downsides as well.  Firstly they can be made from some pretty questionable materials.  Cheap synthetic carpets can off gas some nasty stuff such as PFC’s and VOC’s.  Then there’s the concern over gender bending chemicals in PVC.  I mean, seriously FFS, what’s this stuff doing in a kids play rug when they’re getting down and dirty crawling all over it?

Secondly, you spend your hard earned cash on a car play mat for your Car Crazy Kid and the overwhelming squee of delight that ensues when you fold it out for the first time lasts just long enough to get dinner on the boil or clear your emails.  If you have dreams of that expensive car play mat carpet you bought online for your kids bedroom floor keeping them happily occupied for years to come, you might need to rethink your plan.  You’ve got days at the most.

Car play mats are a work-from-home-mum’s friend

I work from home and my Car Crazy Kid is now home full time with me so I’ve developed some pretty effective diversional strategies to keep him happy and occupied for several hours while I power through phone calls and work.  We’ve taken a pretty low tech approach to parenting so we don’t use the iPad or our phones as a tool of distraction and we allow very little TV at his current age.  So I’ve had to get creative to find ways to keep him happy and occupied in meaningful ways.

Rotation, rotation, rotation

Rotate your car play mats.  Leave them out for a few days at the most and then stash them somewhere safe, but not too safe, you need to remember where you’ve hidden them.  The longer you can leave between rotating the mats the more excited they’ll be when you pull them out again.  We rotate cars as well, with the exception of a few favourites.    A box of cars, or any toys that have been hidden in a cupboard for a few months equals Christmas level excitement when they’re pulled out on a rainy day or when you have a stack of work to do.

DIY car mats

This is the fun part.  You don’t need to be an artist or even particularly creative to create your own car play mats.  In fact, I’ve found since I’ve start drawing these for my Car Crazy Kid that it has actually rekindled an interest in doing all kinds of creative stuff for myself.

I find that drawing roads and colouring them in is a kind of art therapy – which I guess is why colouring in books for grown ups are so hugely popular right now. 

A2 Giant floor drawing pad by ArtstarFor most of our DIY car play mats I use a giant A2 floor drawing pad by Artstar that I picked up from Riot Art and Craft.  I pencil in the roads then trace over them with a permanent marker and colour in with crayons.  Sometimes we cut out houses, trees and animals from magazines or print them and stick them on the roads.

We also have a couple of A1 sized home drawn car play mats that have been laminated at Office Works that form part of the play road rotation.

You don’t need anything fancy, in fact if you really want to stimulate imaginative play, the plainer and more basic your drawing the better. 

I don’t draw my Car Crazy Kid’s roads while he’s around, I usually do them while he’s asleep at night and listen to an audiobook at the same time.  As he becomes more interested in drawing his own roads I don’t want his imagination limited by watching and comparing his creations to what he see’s me doing.

When he wakes in the morning to a brand new car play mat I know I’ve got a good couple of hours to work while he loses himself in his imaginative car play.

How to draw your own car play mats

All you need is:

  • A2 drawing pad from any art supply store (two A2 pages opened out gives you a generous A1 size to create your roadscape)
  • OR an A1 sized sheet of paper from any art supply store
  • Pencil to draw the outline of the roads
  • Black marker to draw in the roads once you’re happy
  • Eraser to rub out the pencil lines (completely optional)
  • Crayons to colour in once you’ve done drawing

And that’s it, all you need to create your own DIY car play mat to keep your Car Crazy Kid playing happily.

Some examples of our DIY car play mats

Car play mat with water background

car play mat

car play matcar play matcar play mat

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