Wild Thing LOVES trains. He loves all things that go, but trains seem to rank up at the top of his things that go list, so I have decided to do a Ten for Tuesday series featuring activities/crafts/books about things that go and had to start with trains (although, I suppose last month when we did a round up of Fire Truck activities, it could/should have been part of the series too!). Please enjoy these ideas for ways to have fun and learn with trains:
1. Reading with Trains - There are so many great train books out there. In fact, many of our favorite books in general happen to be train books.Freight Trains by Donald Crew seems to be toward the top of many train book lists, including a favorite of the crew over at In Lieu of Preschool. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (we have a vintage copy that belonged to my father and a board book version of the story) is a classic. Over at Frogs + Snails + Puppy Dog Tails they recommend Thomas the Train books, which (of course) Wild Thing adores. What Do We Do All Day recommends I’m Fast by Kate and Jim McMullan and another reader recommended Tootle by Gertrude Crampton. I am putting both on our library list. For now, here are our most frequently checked-out-of-the-library train books.
2. Riding Trains and Visiting Train Stations - A train station play date is a definite hit whether you ride or not - often watching the trains is enough. I love how The Pleasantest Thing took along trains and books to play with and read at the station. (Many kid play areas have small trains to ride or if you live in an urban/suburban area the subway and commuter rails are lots of fun for kids). In Southern California, we love Irvine Park Railroad and the pretend train at Underwood Family Farms.
3. Learning with Trains - The Pleasantest Thing shares how they use trains to learn/reinforce key math and science concepts like numerical order, grouping, classification and more. I also love this color matching and letters activity from Inspiration Laboratories using the great book Freight Trains by Donald Crews. We did something similar with our paint chip trains.
|Image from The Pleasantest Thing|
|Here is his train scene at near completion. He got really focused in this process.|
6. Make Cardboard Box Trains - Here Comes the Girls shared an amazing cardboard box train and tunnel. These big trains are great for stuffed animals and fostering imagination. Wild Thing would flip if we did this! He did initiate a much simpler cardboard box train himself when his cardboard box car fell apart.
7. Create Train-Inspired Foods/Snacks - I love this watermelon train from The Pleasantest Thing - so cute and clever! We made a Thomas pancake for breakfast and I have rice krispie trains planned for Wild Thing on his birthday.
|3 cups rice krispies, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup honey.|
9. Make Trains from Everyday Items - Wild Thing can turn anything into a train, and I love to encourage that type of imaginative play with him, often at a restaurant (sugar packets are great trains) or at the park (sticks, wood chips, rocks become trains).
10. Just Play! - A good friend of mine sent Wild Thing his first tracks and Thomas Train. Thomas items can be a bit pricey, but we have built up his train play items through garage/yard sales, resale stores (I find great Thomas books and accessories in very good shape at thrift stores) and by watching for sales.
When my husband was fixing up our backyard this past Spring (adding a patio and sandbox for the boys), he decided to make a train table for Wild Thing. (Even second hand on craigslist, the train tables were still $75-$100). We made a train table ourselves for much less (I think we spent about $35 because we already had the wood and that included the cost for the train set to go on the table). I estimate, though that it can be done for under $50. We love, too, that the table was made by Daddy for Wild Thing and can evolve and change as Wild Thing grows.
To make your own train table, you need: a 10-12 foot 2 x 4 (for the legs) and 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch plywood (for the table top - whatever size you want the table to be - we used the square piece of wood that came on the pallet of patio stones we had).
Cut the 2 x 4 into four pieces that are the same size in length (according to how high you want the table to be) and then screw the plywood on top. For the train tracks and such, we watched for sales at Toys R Us and got an off-brand train set that had tracks, some buildings, a bridge and some trains and people for $20. (We made sure the tracks were compatible with the Thomas trains we already had).
My husband used Guerrilla Glue to put the track down, and he drilled holes to add trees made from real sticks with Styrofoam balls (sprayed green) on top. Wild Thing LOVES this train table!!
Sharing at Tot School Tuesday. Also sharing at Moms Library. Love sharing at My Little Bookcase.
If you have a train lover at home, I would love to know what your favorite train books are and what fun activities you are doing that are inspired by trains. Please share in the comments or share with my at The Good Long Road on FB.
On FB, you will also see photos of Caterpillar. I featured him for Day 5 of #21DaysofGratitude - My beautiful baby boy, who was born 15 months ago today! (Such an obvious choice today for #21DaysofGratitude #22ThankfulDays)
Day 6: Another obvious choice. I am grateful to have the freedom to voice my opinion and vote for my elected officials.
Favorite Ten for Tuesday Posts from the Past:
|Fall Holidays Around the World|
|Ways to Play: Sticks|
|Toddler Games That Only Take You!|