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Auto Fun Survival Kit: A Week of Car-Inspired Activities for Families Stuck at Home

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Are the kids (and maybe adults) in your family getting antsy at home? There’s plenty you can do together to make staying in fun!

Every week, the team at CarParts.com is sharing home project ideas and fun, crafty challenges with an automotive twist. Families who take the challenges can enter our Auto Crafts Sweepstakes for a chance to win a one-year subscription to Disney+ or Hulu, along with a 10% off coupon for orders of $100 or more on CarParts.com—a prize package with something for everyone in the family!

Challenge #2 – Stop Motion!

Next up, we invite you to take the Stop Motion Car Challenge. To enter this week’s sweepstakes, share a 60-second car-inspired stop motion video on Instagram, tag @CarPartsCom and #DrivingMemories in your post caption, and fill out the form here to complete your entry. Entries will be accepted online from April 6, 2020 at 12:00 AM PST to April 30, 2020 at 11:59 PM PST.

Fun Things to Do at Home: A Week-Long Itinerary

To go along with that, we’ve collected some of our team’s favorite home activities and compiled them into this week-long itinerary to help your family beat the boredom blues and stay engaged with each other.


Sunday – Kid-Friendly DIY Car Project

Father and son working on car

Some of us first learned how to work on cars by just being around them. While the kids might be away from school, they can still learn new and exciting things if you get them involved in your car projects, even in very small ways.

Show and Tell

As you’ve probably experienced, kids pick up on an uncanny number of things just by observing. If you’re experiencing any car issues, have your kids help you document what’s wrong with your vehicle and walk them through the process of shopping for the items you need. When you’re performing repairs or replacements, you can have them watch and learn as you talk through each step. Even little ones can play the assistant by handing you tools—that way you can teach them what’s what and start training them to take care of their own tools when they grow up.

Hands-On Learning (with Adult Supervision)

Are your kids watching you work for the first time, or old enough to give it a go themselves? Or maybe you’re starting from square one together? Here are some replacement projects that are great for beginners:

(Note: For your convenience, we’ve included our favorite video tutorials, but remember these are for general education and entertainment only. Always check your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended procedures for your specific application!)

Spark Plug Wire

Replacement spark plug wire set

Spark plug wires are super easy to replace and make a great first project!

Video tutorial: How to Replace Spark Plug Wires (Ford Ranger, Mazda B3000)

Washer Reservoir

Replacement washer reservoir

Washer reservoirs are very easy to replace as well. They’re non-essential to the car running, so if anything goes wrong, it should be inconsequential.

Video tutorial: Honda Accord Windshield Washer Reservoir Replacement

Accessory Belt Tensioner

Replacement accessory belt tensioner

Specialty tools are usually required to replace accessory belt tensioners, but they’re still very much a DIY project.

Video tutorial: How to Remove and Replace a Serpentine Belt Tensioner – 2003 Ford Mustang GT 4.6L Engine

Air Intake Hose

Replacement air intake hose

Air intake hoses are essential and usually easy to replace. The job can be a bit more difficult for certain applications, but generally good to try if you’re newish to DIY.

Video tutorial: How to replace an air intake hose (for 2008 Acura RDX)

Alternator

New alternator by Quality-Built

If you can see your alternator and access the mounting bolts, replacing it is probably one of the easiest jobs you can do. It might be a bit more difficult to access for some modern vehicles. In that case, it could be fun and educational for the kids to watch as you disassemble what’s in the way!

Video tutorial: CHEVY TRAILBLAZER ALTERNATOR REPLACEMENT…….easy as pie!

Video tutorial (includes removal of oil filter first): Remove & Replace Alternator – 1.6 Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Kia Rio, Rio5, Forte

Starter

New starter by Quality-Built

As for starters, they have pretty much the same level of difficulty as alternators (mostly easy, depending on how accessible yours is in your car).

Video tutorial: Replace the Starter on a Toyota Echo Yaris

So if you’ve got a high school student looking for productive things to do when bored, hand them a socket wrench! With these projects, they can easily take Auto Mechanics 101 at home with dear old Mom or Dad and help you fix up the family car.

Search for all the other parts you need below and build out the rest of your lesson plan:

Car Wash (All Ages Approved)

Kids helping their dad wash the family car

And of course, if it’s a sunny day, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned car wash to enjoy an hour or two of fresh air. Don’t forget to clean and disinfect your interior!


Monday – Car Movie Marathon

Father and daughter cheering while watching movie

After all that hard work, you’re probably exhausted, so go ahead and let yourselves be couch potatoes for the day. You’ve earned it! Our top movie marathon picks are packed with hot rods, racing, and car chases, so you’re still in for a day full of action.

This list ranges from Rated G to R, so depending on how old your kids are, remember to check the ratings before you hunker down for a binge session:

If you have the space and means to create a drive-in experience in your backyard, even better!


Tuesday – Car Movie Cook-Off

Family cooking together in kitchen

Chopped meets Dinner and a Movie in this automotive-inspired cooking challenge. Go head-to-head with your fellow home chefs in making dishes inspired by the previous night’s car movie marathon. And yes, Dad, feel free to continue your post-movie reenactments in the kitchen.

Here are some ideas for key ingredients that you can use for the appetizer and main course rounds:

You can substitute these as needed, depending on what you have at home. The more random, the better!

And the final round, dessert, is a free-for all! Get creative with anything you can find in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.

In case you freeze up in the kitchen, here are a few ideas to keep in your back pocket. (Don’t worry—we won’t tell.)

  1. Appetizer Round: Paul Walker’s Tuna-No-Crust Tea Sandwiches
  2. Main Course Round: Tow Mater Po-Tater Casserole
  3. Dessert Round: S’morean a la Marty McFly
    • Make a delicious replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future with a graham cracker body, chocolate-dipped marshmallow tires, and a melted chocolate and marshmallow interior. If you can manage to make gull-wing doors, you’re sure to score some serious presentation points.

Best of luck, and bon appetit!


Wednesday – Car Lovers’ Game Night

Family playing board game

What’s a week of family fun without Game Night? Racing video games are sure to provide hours of entertainment, but if you’re also looking for games of the unplugged variety, here are some ideas the kids will love:

Auto Enthusiast Scavenger Hunt

One way you can set up a scavenger hunt for your little car lovers is to simply hide their toy cars around the house and hand them a list of what to find. If you have LEGO sets like these, you can hide the pieces around the house and set a time limit for the kids to find them all and complete the build. Or if you want to make it a friendly competition, you can have players race each other.

Whether you hide toy cars or car pieces, you could pair each with a clue that leads players to the next one, so they find all the cars or pieces in the right order.

Kids racing remote control toy cars at home

Car Categories

This automotive spin on a classic road trip game is just as fun to play at the dinner table! Choose a category (e.g. car makes and models, car movies, actors in car movies, race car drivers, road signs, off-roading destinations, etc.) and take turns naming things, places, or people that belong to that category.

You could play alphabetically, with the first letter being A for Player 1, then B for Player 2, and so forth, all the way through Z (e.g. Aston Martin for Player 1, BMW for Player 2, etc.). Or the last letter of the previous turn could be the next player’s first letter (e.g. Volkswagen for Player 1, Nissan for Player 2, etc.). A nice alternative for one round could be naming bucket list destinations for future family road trips, and having the first letters spell out A-R-O-U-N-D T-H-E W-O-R-L-D.

Make Your Own Car-Themed Board Game

Are you a gearhead who’s searched to no avail for the elusive Nürburgring Monopoly? You and your family could always make your own version at home. On the other hand, inventing an entirely new car-themed board game together could be even more fun! You could spend days collaborating, coming up with the rules and object of the game, designing the board and pieces, etc. Whatever you choose to do, check out this article on Nürburgring Monopoly and other car-themed board games for inspiration.


Thursday – In-House Dream Car Art Walk

Kids drawing dream car in chalk

Probably the most classic of all kids’ creative activities at home is Art Day, but let’s step things up! If your family enjoys going to First Thursday downtown art walks and the like, you can easily recreate the experience with this in-home alternative. In the afternoon, your family can take the Create Your Dream Car Challenge and bring your dream cars to life however you all like—drawings, paintings, replicas made from whatever you can find at home… you name it!

At night, you can set up your dream car creations all over the house (or in the backyard) and prepare food-truck-style bites and handhelds so you can eat as you stroll around. Family members can take turns sharing stories about the inspiration behind their designs, all the details of their creations, what it was like to create their dream cars, how they imagine it would feel to drive them, and more.


Friday – Automotive Listening Party

Mother and daughter listening to music together

Looking to relax today? Get everyone comfy and meditating together to these automotive soundtracks:

Playlist (created by CarParts.com, just for you!)

Podcasts

Audiobooks

Sleep/Meditation Soundtrack

Whether you want the family to learn something new together or simply have something playing in the background while you enjoy each other’s company, having a listening party is a great way to wind down towards the end of the week.


Saturday – Family Road Trip Planning Session

Family at home planning next holiday road trip together

Is your family bummed to cancel that road trip for spring break? You’re not alone. But on the bright side, this could be a prime opportunity to plan an even better trip!

Nowadays, it can be rare for everyone in the family to find the time (or desire) to do thorough research and have a real say in the itinerary. Encourage all your family members to sit down on their own time and plan out their vision of an ideal family road trip. Once everyone’s done, reconvene for a family caucus, where each member shares their pitch.

From there, you can find elements that overlap (e.g. swimming is a must, hard pass on camping with no showers), vote on a primary destination (e.g. Arizona or Yosemite?), and have an open planning session that involves everyone’s input for the next road trip, including main activities, routes, restaurants, fun pit stops, games to play in the car, and community agreements (e.g. no cell phones allowed during meals).

Can’t figure out your destination, or prefer a more spontaneous approach to pinning it down? Put up a map of the U.S. and let a dart decide!

Now, what’s there to do in Des Moines?


For more fun things to do when you’re bored at home, make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Instagram. We’ll be sharing more challenges and activities that you can add to your family’s arsenal, so keep an eye out!

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Author

Jacqui Fauni

Marketing & Communications Specialist at CarParts.com

Jacqui Fauni is a contributing writer and editor for In the Garage, specializing in features, guides, and both product and lifestyle content. With over 10 years of experience in copywriting—five of which have been in the automotive industry—and a BA in English and Psychology from UC Berkeley, Jacqui is passionate about community-building and helping to make parts knowledge and the automotive space as a whole more accessible to everyday drivers. As an old soul, she’d pick cruising down the coast in a classic car over a day at the track anytime.

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