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Recycled Track Platform: DIY Project for Wooden Train Layouts

Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 in Things to Make, Train Play | 5 comments

Recycled Track Platform: DIY Project for Wooden Train Layouts

Elevation.  It’s one element of wooden train layouts that never fails to please, but often ends up frustrating everyone involved.  While we have a few sturdy pieces that add height to our tracks in a reliable manner, most bridges and track supports are liable to be knocked over with the slightest jostling from little hands or feet.  Also, once the tracks have gone up, they either need to be held up by more and more supports or come right back down again.

Still, it’s well worth building those tracks up and up and up. Sending trains rolling down hills is fascinating to those playing with them, and not just because it’s fun. In the same way that learning to couple up wooden engines and cars teaches practical lessons in magnetic polarity, these slopes in a train layout provide children the opportunity to experiment with gravity.  It’s fun to crash the trains, and just as fun to try to control their ascent or descent, keeping passengers or freight comfortable in the cars the engines are pulling.  The Little Engineer has spent afternoons focused on the task of pushing an engine up a particularly tricky hill.

One way we’ve found to elevate an entire area of our train layouts is to build some of the track on a platform.  Fortunately, Costco is kind enough to give us one for free every time we shop there.

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Train Engineer and Thomas & Friends Easter Eggs

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Things to Make | 12 comments

Train Engineer and Thomas & Friends Easter Eggs

We got to our Easter eggs at the last minute as always, but I’m so glad we did them!  The Little Engineer loved it even more than last year and would have been happy to dye several more dozen eggs.

As for me, my Thomas & Friends eggs turned out to be much easier to make than I was expecting. Plus I came up with a couple of additional ideas that I was really excited about.  I think I would have liked to have had another dozen eggs to play with myself!

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Train-Themed Easter Egg Fillers

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014 in Cool Train Stuff | 11 comments

Train-Themed Easter Egg Fillers

When it came time to plan for the Little Engineer’s first egg hunt, he’d had only had a few tastes of chocolate, and no other candy to speak of (still hasn’t had any, I don’t think, though he does seem to think chocolate should be a food group).  So while my own fond childhood memories of Easter morning involved finding every last Cadbury Creme Egg, I wanted to think of something else fun for my own son that didn’t involve sugar. As you’ll see, what I did come up with was a hit.  Since then, we’ve collected a number of small train items that would make great Easter egg fillers, so I thought it might be helpful to compile them into one handy list.

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Easter Train Freight and Easy Bunny Ears for Wooden Trains

Posted by on Mar 29, 2014 in Things to Make, Train Play | 8 comments

Easter Train Freight and Easy Bunny Ears for Wooden Trains

Bringing holidays and season into train play is always a fun way to renew interest in the trains and learn about these special times of year at the same time. Here’s a big list of fun ideas for an Easter train layout, plus a super easy way to make bunny ears for the trains to wear — without damaging them!

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Train Gifts for Easter Baskets

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Gift Guides | 0 comments

Train Gifts for Easter Baskets

My mom always made Easter morning special for us when I was a kid, so I always enjoy planning the Little Engineer’s Easter basket. I have a tendency, however, to buy gifts that are a bit too big for his baskets — which means I have to figure out how to wedge them in! With that in mind, I’ve made a list of train gifts for kids that I know are small enough to fit in Easter baskets. There’s something for every kid from babies to toddlers to preschoolers to school-age kids, so I hope you’ll find the perfect gift for the Easter Bunny to bring to your little train lover.

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Easter Train Books for Kids

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Read, Watch & Listen | 0 comments

Easter Train Books for Kids

I love reading holiday-themed books with the Little Engineer. He often requests the best ones all year round, and train-themed books have been especially popular. (No suprise there, of course!) Here is a list of all the Easter train books for kids we’ve been able to get our hands on.

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Cherry Blossom Tunnel: Spring Outdoor Activity for Kids

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Activities, Train Play | 12 comments

Cherry Blossom Tunnel: Spring Outdoor Activity for Kids

We planted a flowering cherry tree in our backyard when we bought our house several years ago.  Somehow, when we weren’t looking, it grew into a towering, graceful friend who gives us much needed shade and privacy all summer long.

It’s easy to forget about the tree in the winter, with it’s long branches no more than thin, dark lines against the sky.  But as March approaches, we remember, and begin watching it for signs of life.  We’ve learned the cherry tree and its flowers didn’t become a symbol for the ephemeral nature of things for nothing.  All at once it seems to burst into bloom, first forming a pink cloud above our deck, and then dropping petals that float and fall, the soft snowfall of spring. If we blink, we miss it.

And for the past few years, I’ve tried to get my love of our tree to rub off on the Little Engineer.

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