Tuesday, June 18, 2013

{Virtual Book Club for Kids} Move, Eat, Draw, Learn with Trains by Gail Gibbons

Wild Thing (3.5 years-old) has been a train fan for awhile now (probably for two years). He loves all things that go, but trains were his first obsession in this area, which begin when he was probably Caterpillar's age (18 months) or perhaps a bit younger, so when it came time to select a Gail Gibbons book for us for the Virtual Book Club for Kids, her book Trains was the obvious choice. Each month with the Virtual Book Club for Kids we share a way that we move, eat, draw and learn with the book. So, here's 4(+) fun ways to play (and learn) with Trains! (Though I am flipping the order and sharing move, draw, eat, learn - you'll see why). 

Move - Pretending to be a train gets my boys moving every time. Sometimes we pretend to be trains while walking in a specific way. Sometimes, we use a good old cardboard box. Wild Thing will push Caterpillar. Then, I will push Wild Thing. Wild Thing also likes to turn blankets into trains as I pull them around the house (okay, so that one gets me moving, not them). Another way we move with trains is when we visit a nearby train station that offers special train rides, but which has trains parked on the tracks on a regular basis for children and adults to explore. They can climb up on the trains and run and walk alongside the tracks looking at many different types of trains. There are even trains that have been converted into shops. It is a great free outing that we do regularly. 

I also absolutely love the Pool Noodle Train Tracks that Play-Trains recently shared on her blog. What an awesome way to get train-loving kids moving and outside this summer! 

Draw - For our art component this week, we made trains using recycled boxes and milk caps. (If you read the blog, you know how much I love to use milk caps!) The boys had lots of fun painting their trains and glueing on the wheels. 

Wild Thing is making sure we have what we need to get started.
After he glued the wheels on the train, he enjoyed painting the train.

Caterpillar enjoyed transferring milk caps between freight cars too.
Eat - Then, we used our new trains to help carry our ingredients when we made a simple batch of 3-ingredient, no bake cookies. In Trains by Gail Gibbons, she shares about many types of trains, including freight trains that often carry food and the hopper cars that carry grains. So, we thought it would be perfect for our trains to be freight cars. My next goal is to transform them into true hopper cars so the ingredients can come out of the bottom of the train! When we do that, I will definitely share it. The simple 3-ingredient no bake cookies we made this time were a variation on a peanut butter oat variety that we really like. This time, I used sunflower seed butter instead, a perfect way to make the cookies for children with nut allergies. (We have also made krispy treats that look like trains in the past. You can find them here, as well as 10+ fun ways to learn, play, create with trains including a DIY train table.) 

Staple ingredients are: honey, rolled oats, sunflower seed butter.
Wild Thing added in some peanut butter cups, which we typically do not do.
The Freight cars delivering the ingredients.
We mixed 1 cup oats, 1 cup sunflower seed butter and eyeballed the honey.
You want enough to get it all to stick together. Then I made cookie balls
and put them in the muffin tin to go in the fridge and set.
Now the cookies are ready to eat.
Learn - The book is such a great learning tool as it is full of fun facts and information about trains, including some brief history about trains, that some trains are steam trains, others are diesel and others are powered by electricity, and the different ways that trains are used (for passengers, for freight and details about types of freight). As we read it, we talk about the types of trains we have been on and seen. We also have extended the learning opportunity regarding how trains work into everyday life -- talking about coal powering steam engines when we grill (we have a charcoal grill) or discussing the power of steam when I make a pot of tea. Learning opportunities are all around us! I have also used the book to reinforce Wild Thing's interest and awareness of blending sounds (which began many months ago) as we read the word train and track and recognize their common beginning sounds. (You can read about and see the TR learning activities we did with Trouble with Trolls and GR learning activities we did with There Was a Tree. I have added to the TR cards we made with Trouble with Trolls adding words like train, track and others to further reinforce his understanding of these blended letter sounds). Finally, I have to share another cool activity from Play-Trains: Coal and Water Steam Engine Sensory Play

As you can see, Trains by Gail Gibbons offers many fun learning and play activities. We have also been enjoying some other books by Gibbons. Our other favorites are Dinosaurs, Corn and Vegetables. Dinosaurs and Vegetables both lend themselves quite well to sorting activities. We plan to sort Wild Thing's dinosaur fact cards using the book putting all of the sauropods together and such. I also plan to have Wild Thing and Caterpillar sort vegetables too. I also thought I would share some other dinosaur, vegetable and corn activities we have done in the past that would work as extensions/connections to those Gibbons' books: Composting and Dinosaurs, Cornmeal Sensory Bin, Popcorn on the Cob and Vegetable Recipes for Kids from A-Z

Have you read any books by Gail Gibbons? Which are your favorites? 

(P.S. My son is actually playing trains with chairs as I finish this post right now!) 

Sharing at: Eco-Kids Tuesday, Artsy Play Wednesday, Mom's Library, Kid Lit Blog Hop, It's Playtime, Stress-Free SundayThe Sunday Showcase and Kids in the Kitchen!


  1. You have such great activities to go with your books and I'll have to try out your cookies! They look delicious! Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. :)

  2. I love how you broke down the categories of your activities. Each one is so cool. Your recycled train is just wonderful. Thank you for linking this post to Read.Explore,Learn. I will be sharing this post.

  3. Looks like so much fun! I love tying activities to a book! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! I hope you join us again today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/06/eco-kids-tuesday_25.html