Learning Through Train Play

Kids love trains!

It's something magical we've seen at our Brio Train Table every day it's out on our toy store floor. Kids as young as 18 months gravitate towards the table, roll the trains around the track, and make their train "choo choo" sounds! The best thing you can do for your child is to embrace this new interest. Their love of the wheels and tracks doesn't just lead to hours of fun, but also helps develop understanding of spatial reasoning, sequential logic, and beginning math skills. 

Learning through play is the best way for children to expand their minds and retain new concepts. So, how can we leverage their natural love of trains to teach even more concepts? Keep reading for 4 easy learning activities to try with your trains today!

1) TRAIN TRACING

Get off those tracks! Kids love getting on the ground and pushing their trains around. Use painters tape or chalk to make new tracks! Start with easy straight lines and zig zags. When your train enthusiast has mastered that, mark out shapes, numbers, or letters and let your children explore the shape in 3 dimensions! Talk about the shapes and what makes them difference. This a great pre-writing primer to get kids comfortable with making the shapes before they ever try with a pencil! 

 

2) SEE AND SPELL

One of my favorite things about wooden trains is how they magnetize together and pull each other along. If your young reader/writer is working on stringing letters together to make words, don't worry! Trains are here to help! Label your trains with letters (I like to use little circle label stickers, but post-its work too!) and string together short sight words (e.g. cat, bat, hat!). Can your reader sound out the train? Once they begin recognizing the letters and their sounds, you can have your child build their own words! I love this activity because it really grows with your child. First, you can just focus on sounds out the letters. Later, use words instead of letters on your trains and start building sentences!

3) TRAIN SCHEDULES

I love this one, because I love a little competition! If you are working on telling times, on your mark, get set, GO! This activity takes a little preparation. Start by building a big track with several train stations. Then, draw up a train schedule. Where is the train at noon? How about 10:30? 6:15? Now get your players together; each player gets a train. When the players are ready, change the time on your clock? Player race to read the time, check the schedule, and get their train to the right station! 

4) Coding your Train

You read that right! Trains can even let your kids practice pre-coding skills! In fact, train tracks are basically codes our trains follow to get where they need to go. To begin, set up the track. You can make any track design you want, just make sure you pick a starting spot and a stopping point. Work together to write down the track code.

What does that mean? Follow the track! For every piece of straight track, write forward! Does it turn? Write left or right! (Instead of writing, you can print out these code words and use them instead!)Once you get a handle on how the code works, try to write the code to complete a challenge! Pick where you want to start and stop and then use the track to write a code that will get you there. Make it even harder by adding obstacles along the way! This activity also helps with our spatial reasoning, logic, and communication skills! 

Ready to start playing? Add to your train collection today!


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