Car Wash

By Patricia A. Keeler
Illustrations by Patricia A. Keeler


  • asking and answering questions
  • reading verbs with “-ing” endings
  • reading a refrain
  • reading text with return sweep
  • sequencing events

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • repetitive, patterned sentences
  • close picture-text match
  • rhythmic text

Essential Components of Reading Instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, comprehension strategies

High-frequency Words: I, look, out, the, and, what, do, see, on, all, go/going, to, it, we, coming, down

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • Why do people wash their cars?
    • What would you do if you had to wash a car?
    • Have you ever been to a car wash? Tell me what happens at a car wash.
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Car Wash.”
    • Ask them to predict what they would expect to see happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what kind of fun the girl and her family might have at a car wash.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures. Ask them to tell what happens as they turn each page.
  3. Remind children of the strategies they know and can use with unfamiliar words:
    • Ask them, “What will you do if you come to a word you don’t know?”
    • Encourage children to say the beginning sound of an unknown word and read on, returning to the word after completing the sentence.
    • Suggest that children also remember what they know about a car wash and choose a word that makes sense in the sentence.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains numerous high-frequency words and many other familiar words.
    • There is a patterned question and patterned response. Only a few words change in each set.
    • There is a refrain after each question/answer pair: “We’re going to the car wash. Wash it! Wash it! Here we go!”
    • Several familiar verbs are used, but in the gerund form: going, coming, foaming, scrubbing, blowing.
    • The story is straightforward but gives children the opportunity to read more text on each page, also requiring a return sweep.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about what happens when the girl and her family go through a car wash.

  2. Have children read quietly, but out loud. Each child should be reading at his or her own pace. Children should not read in chorus. Listen to children as they read by leaning close or bending down beside each child.

  3. Look for these reading behaviors during children’s first reading:
    • Have they begun to cross-check, using a variety of strategies, and to self correct?
    • Do they rely less on pictures and more on print when reading?
    • Do they have a growing sight vocabulary?
    • Do they use beginning, middle, and ending sounds to read unknown words?
    • Are they monitoring meaning and rereading when they lose meaning?
    • Do they easily move from one line of text to the next when making a return sweep?
    • Have they started to use punctuation to gain meaning?
    • Do they read the refrain rhythmically and use strong emphasis for the word “SPLAT!”?
    • Do they make more accurate predictions?
    • Can they connect the text to past experiences?
  4. As children read, suggest reading strategies if they are struggling: “Try saying the beginning of the word. Try looking at the picture for help.” Encourage children to take a guess or read past the unknown word.

  5. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Review how to find a known part in an unknown word.
    • Show children how to use analogies to move from the known to the unknown when encountering new words.
    • Work with suffixes and prefixes.
    • Review using grammar (syntax) to unlock words by considering the sentence structure or parts of speech in the sentence.
    • Explore the story grammar—characters, setting, problem, and so on.
    • Review how to determine what is important in a picture or sentence.
    • Model asking questions or making “I wonder . . .” statements to extend comprehension.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Discuss the use of question marks and exclamation points as keys to reading with a particular kind of expression or inflection.
    • Work with the “-ing” form of verbs.
    • Call attention to the sequence of events in the story.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children confirm their predictions about what happened in the story.

  2. Discuss how the car wash cleaned the car and focus children on the sequence of events. What are the steps that get the car clean?

  3. Practice reading the refrain rhythmically and with expression. Call attention to the exclamation points and what they indicate.

  4. Encourage children to connect their experiences washing cars with the events in the story.

  5. Explore with children the humor in the last part of the story.

  6. Elicit children’s thoughts on how the family felt about having to return to the car wash.

Second Reading

  1. Have children reread the book in a whisper voice or to a partner.

  2. This is a time for assessment. While they are reading, watch what children do and what they use from the teaching time. Alternatively, you might take a running record on one child as an assessment of the child’s reading behavior.

Cross-Curricular Activities

Art: Make a poster advertising a car wash that will benefit a school group. If practical, have children organize or participate in a car wash project to raise money for a special project or cause.

Music: Distribute rhythm instruments to children. Read CAR WASH aloud and have children use the instruments to beat out the rhythm of the line “Wash it! Wash it! Here we go!” every time you read the line.
Teach children the song “Whistle While You Work.” Once children have learned the basic tune and words, innovate on the verse to create a song that people working at a car wash might sing. (The complete song lyrics can be found at:

Science: Have children use sponges to scrub a dirty desk or table. Discuss the sequence of events and observe how the desk changes as the soap is applied, the sponge scrubs the dirt, the water rinses off the soap and dirt, and the air dries the wet surface. Talk about why some marks or dirt were more difficult to remove than others.

Math: Brainstorm a list of services a car wash might provide, such as a basic car wash, a special car wash with a second soaping, waxing, vacuuming the interior, selling new floor mats, and so on. Develop a list of prices for these services. Once the list is complete, create problems for children to solve. For example, if a customer wants a basic wash and wax, what would be the total cost?

Social Studies: Take children on a field trip to a drive-through car wash or invite the owner of a car wash to visit the class. Prior to the visit, have children generate a list of questions they would like answered. After the visit, write a language experience chart describing what children have learned.

Writing: Introduce children to the concept of alliteration with a sentence such as the following: Big brushes were bumping the blue bus. Challenge children to create their own alliterative sentences using “-ing” verbs. Record their sentences on chart paper and let children add illustrations.

Lavado de autos

Guided Reading™: F        DRA: 10        Intervention: 10
12 pages, 149 words

The directions given for the introduction, first reading, and second reading of the English edition can be used with the Spanish edition of the book. To read the book successfully, children need the same kinds of support as their English-speaking classmates. Second language learners often benefit from acting out new words, seeing pictures, and talking about them using concrete examples.

The Spanish edition has many familiar words, and the same text features as the English edition, thereby maintaining the rhythmic verse, refrain, and sets of patterned questions and answers. Exclamation points and question marks are used on several pages at both the beginning and end of the sentences. The marks appear “upside down” at the beginning of each sentence and “right side up” at the end. Some forms of words may be unfamiliar to children (for example, “ventanilla” may be less familiar than “ventana”). Use such words as an opportunity to explore different word forms and synonyms.

The book language used may differ from children’s oral language. Comparing any differences will help children read and understand the story. Also help children understand that we often speak differently than we write, and that both ways of using language are important.


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 1 - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Vehicles In Motion, Five Senses / Body Parts, Families, Childhood Experiences and Memories, African/African American Interest, Realistic Fiction, Water


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Add-On Pack, Bebop English Guided Reading Level F, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Bebop Assessment Set, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, African American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Library, At Home Learning Collection for Grades PreK-2, Bebop English Fiction

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