Tyre Track Printing


Wow. T is seriously into vehicles. I don’t think I have pushed him into being a stereo-typical truck-obsessed “boy’s boy”…at least, not consciously. Of course, I have encouraged his interest by buying him toys and books on this subject, but I feel I’ve tried to balance this out by getting him tea-sets, soft-toys and story books that do not feature diggers or tractors.

He just. Blimmin. Loves them.  And, when you really think about it, who wouldn’t?  Vehicles have wheels.  And wheels are exciting – they MOVE!  In different directions, at different speeds and in different ways according to their number, shape, size and the terrain they are travelling on.

SO, I am embracing his enthusiasm! This means that not only have I learned all the different parts and functions of combine harvesters, forklifts, monster trucks, cranes, wheelbarrows, articulated haulers, skid steers, bulldozers…and every vehicle imaginable; but I have also been introducing Things That Go into pretty much all of our play in the last few weeks.

Now I know there must be at least a few of you out there who also find yourselves in the company of truck-loving toddlers, so I thought I’d share what we’ve been doing with you.

Here is the first in my series of 5 Toddler Vehicle Play Ideas.  I will be posting the others one at a time, over the next few days.

#1: Tyre Track Printing

This is a classic arty activity for wheel-lovers.  What I like about it is:

  • it’s child-led: all you do is supply the materials and allow your little one to direct the play
  • it’s easy to set-up (not many materials needed)
  • it’s open-ended, so the activity can lead wherever your little one wants to, encouraging creativity and experimentation

What You Will Need:

2 or 3 plastic tubs (old take-away boxes work well or those ones you get mushrooms in at the supermarket)

2 or 3 colours of non-toxic paint

2 or 3 toy vehicles with interesting tyre patterns

A wad of plain paper/card (card works best for younger babies/toddlers as they can get it really wet without making holes in it)

Sticky tape

An apron

A pvc sheet/tarpaulin to protect the floor

A table (with protective covering) or a tray (for younger babies, a high chair tray works perfectly)

A bowl of warm soapy water, towel and wet wipes

Somewhere to hang your pictures to dry


1.  Protect floor with something waterproof: tarpaulin or PVC table cloth works well. I bought a VERY cheap shower curtain for £1 ages ago for when we were doing baby-led weaning and it works a treat for messy activities. I just pop it in the washing machine after the activity. Highly recommend it.  As you will see in the photos, I did not wash it last time we painted…nobody’s perfect!

2.  Tape your paper to the table to avoid the paper moving around and your child smudging the picture or being distracted by the movement – a small piece diagonally across each corner is quickest and most secure (nb you will see from the photos that we did not do this as Ted was so keen to get started!  He is a bit older now and I was supervising though so there was no need to do this really).

3.  Have an idea where you will be putting your pictures before you start. I peg them to a piece of string hanging from the curtain rail at the moment – not ideal but it works for now! Really drippy creations go on the dining table.

4.  Provide your little one with a tub of paint and a vehicle and encourage them to put it on the paper and push it around.   Introduce 1 vehicle in paint at a time to focus their attention on that one tyre track pattern and colour.  Then just let them explore.  For younger babies and toddlers, instead of using tubs of paint, just squirt some paint directly onto the paper/card, put a vehicle in the paint, and watch them go!

What Your Child Is Learning:

Fine motor skills, colours, scientific experiment (what happens if I do this?), mark-making (early-writing), creativity (making choices about colour/movements on paper)

Our Unique Painting Journey In Pictures.  It got a bit messy towards the end!


(Obv don’t be like me and make sure you put paper down before they sit down. Ted was so eager I couldn’t get it all out quickly enough!)


After a while he started putting his fingers in the paint so we just dispensed with the vehicles and enjoyed getting really MESSY :-).  We made handprints first (he LOOOOVES doing this) and then he just wanted to pour the paint on and mix the colours together.


As we all know, the JOURNEY is more important than the DESTINATION…nevertheless, here are T’s masterpieces:


I hope you enjoyed reading this post! We certainly enjoyed making it :-).  If you found it useful, pin, tweet, share or leave a comment below  – you will make my day!

Have a great week everyone :-). Look out for my next post: Toddler Vehicle Play Idea # 2.  Once I have posted all the play ideas in this series, I’ll open up my Vehicle Play Ideas Pinterest Board that I have been lovingly cultivating :-).


One thought on “Tyre Track Printing

  1. Pingback: Mini (Montessori-inspired) Car Wash |

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