Clean the Trucks Sensory – Busy Toddler

Clean the Trucks Sensory - Busy Toddler


If your child loves vehicles, this “clean the trucks” activity is perfect for them. With just a few quick ingredients, you can set this outdoor activity up in seconds – and end up with a child playing for much longer.

Two kids lean over a sensory bin full of mud and construction trucks. Water and soap with a brush are next to them.

What is a clean the trucks activity?

Cleaning activities are some of my kids’ favorites activities… and lucky for me because they’re literally the cleanest activities around.

Seriously: the root of these activities is cleaning.

Wash the cars.

Wash the toys.

Kids love goal-oriented activities where we can mix play and life skills. In this activity, we are mixing the imaginary play of muddy trucks with a very real skill for kids to develop: scrubbing.

It’s simple to make but it holds little attention spans much longer.

RELATED: Looking for more outdoor activities for toddlers? I have the sweetest list!

Looking for more structure each day?

Check out Playing Preschool: Busy Toddler’s 190-day at-home activities program

How is this a sensory bin?

I love a good sensory bin moment. I just do.

Sensory play is my favorite kind of toddler play – sorry other activities! I’m fine playing favorites here.

Sensory bins are AWESOME for kids and they don’t have to be scary for parents. It’s all about introducing toddlers to sensory bins and setting boundaries. I promise – sensory play is the best. And this activity is a perfect one to start with.

In Clean the Trucks, there are two sensory bases: mud and water.

RELATED: Curious about sensory play? Let me explain what sensory play is.

A child scrubs at a dirty truck with a scrubby brush and water.


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The How-To

This activity is “double binned”, which is the sensory equivalent to double bagging.

Put the smaller container in the bin first. Then, shovel in a bunch of dirt into the larger half of the storage container. Add some water, some trucks, and the messy side of this activity is ready to go.

Yes – I literally was out in my yard shoveling dirt into a sensory bin. My kids weren’t phased one bit.

In the smaller container, fill it with clean water and tear free bubbles. Add a brush so your kids can clean.

RELATED: Great activities for kids do not need to be fancy. See my “unfancy” supply list here.

A child's hand reaches to grab a construction truck out of the mud. There is a brush with bubbles next to the truck.

What my kids thought of Clean the Trucks

Clean the Trucks was an immediate hit for us.

My two year old and four year old played it all day long. It was a great “together” sibling activity, which is one of the reasons I love sensory play. It’s an equalizer.

In the afternoon, our neighbors even joined in on the fun – all the way up to the nine year old!

This activity captured all their imaginations and interest. Next time we do this, I’m totally making some mud bricks to add into the fun!

RELATED: If you need a taste-safe version of this activity, try this chocolate oobleck recipe from Friends Art Lab.

A child squats and places a muddy truck into a bin of wash and bubbles. There are more muddy trucks in the area and the child is holding a scrub brush.

Are kids learning in this activity?

Remember: kids are always learning when they are playing. AND we don’t need to quantify their play or justify it with learning.

But – it’s always fun to see and consider what kids are learning when they’re playing (to further see how magical play really is).

In Clean the Trucks, kids are learning and developing:

  • Life skills: learning how to clean
  • Fine motor skills: using their hands (good for future handwriting)
  • Imaginary play: this takes large amounts of brain power
  • Science: understanding mud and properties of liquids

Frequently Asked Questions

How old should kids be for this activity?

Remember to consider the child’s stage in life and their interests before age. Does your child know how to clean something? Can they hold a brush? Can they safely play with tear free soap and mud? If yes, this activity might be something they’d be interested in. For my kids, this was typically around age 2.

What kind of soap?

Any soap that is tear free. Please do not make the same mistake I did and use regular soap for an activity like this. It’s not fun when it gets in a toddler’s eyes.

What kind of dirt did you use?

I used what was in my yard. This isn’t fancy dirt or anything special. I grabbed what I had and added water.

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.


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