Doing a transportation theme? Change the dramatic play center into an Auto Shop! Your students will LOVE pretending to be a mechanic. Plus it’s super easy to embed a ton of math and literacy learning experiences into their play.
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In my classroom we do a theme for about a month. I slowly add props all month long to keep students engaged and excited. We also read books and watch YouTube videos of mechanics to build background knowledge. This photo was taken at the end of theme.
Students help make many of the props for the dramatic play center. We made cars from boxes! It was simple. Just cut off one side flap and tape the box closed. Cut a hole and tape one side of the flap to the top to create the hood. Be sure to tape only one side so students can open and close the hood. I cut holes in the bottom for students to stick “parts” and wires through. We made “lifts” using hollow blocks so students could roll under the car on a scooter board just like a real mechanic!
Don’t worry about buying a ton of props for this theme. Grab a few tools from the blocks center and some funnels and goggles from the science center.
Make your own fluid bottles. Put water and food coloring in a few empty soap bottles. Then hot glue and tape the lid on. Now students can pretend to fill the windshield washer fluid, engine fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid.
Need mechanic shirts? Find or buy a pack of plain white shirts. Just smear black paint on the shirt and you have mechanic shirts! Easy pesy.
Need car parts? Have students make their own car parts using pipe cleaners, beads, and foil. It’s great fine motor work too.
Now I know you are wondering about the oil. It is empty. I washed it out best I could and hot glued the lid on just to be safe. I also added some bungee cords and plastic tubing I found at the Dollar Tree. Students colored paper towel tubes and painted a small box for a car battery (bottom right corner). Students sculpted foil to create larger car parts too.
I cut tires out of black poster board, head lights from yellow paper, and tail lights from red paper. Then added Velcro so students could put the tires, head lights, and tail lights on and off the car.
This is our receptionist desk complete with a cash register, appointment book, and auto shop forms. The waiting room was next to it so customers could wait while their cars were being fixed.
Our little mechanics LOVED fixing the cars. Students collaborated and problem solved together during play.
I just love to sneak in tons of literacy experiences into their play. Students don’t even realize they are learning and doing work! Students helped make the signs for the Auto Shop. I created mechanic reports and customer information pages for students to fill out during play to embed more reading and writing.
In the waiting room there is a book bucket so customers can read as they wait. There is also an appointment book!
It’s super easy to add math experiences into the Auto Shop too. I made the tires different sizes so students had to match the tires. Students are exploring time and identifying numbers when they make appointments, pay, and use the cash register.
Want ALL the Auto Shop printables? Go grab Auto Shop Dramatic Play HERE. I made everything for you including labels, signs, parent letter, teacher idea pages, prop patterns, prop lists, and more in this pack.
Go read about all my favorite transportation themed centers and activities HERE. Plus grab my FREE road number mats too!
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