Here’s a jingle bell train activity we did last year, but I never managed to write about the photos — which means I’ve been looking forward to posting this for twelve months now! My son has always been very interested in couplers and coupling chains. For a long time, when I’d want him to hold my hand in a parking lot or some other public place, I would ask him to “couple up” and we’d pretend to be two engines linked together. So when I got some jingle bells to combine with our trains, we were very excited to find out that we could use them to make coupling chains for our wooden trains. We had a variety of sizes of jingle bells on hand, and in comparing how the different sizes worked as coupling chains, our train play turned into a fun investigation into the properties of magnets.Read More
When I wrote Train Gifts for Toddlers as part of the 50+ Gift Guides for Kids series last year, it was the first post in a series of train gift guides for children organized by age. Now fully updated, it contains even more amazing toy trains, train books, and other train gifts for toddlers!Read More
We love experimenting with adding other sensory elements to wooden train play. Adding sounds to our trains always is especially fun, and these wooden train jingle bell shakers are no exception. This is the perfect way to get child who loves trains involved in making music, whether that’s Christmas carols or any kind of music, all year round. Especially with the blue and silver colors we used, our jingle train was festive without being too Christmasy for other times of the year, and I love the way the bells look a little bit like balloons floating around Thomas. I also have some suggestions for turning this into a learning activity.Read More
Along with wooden train sets, wooden train tables are a classic feature in the children’s playroom at home and the preschool classroom. It can be hard, however, to get an idea of all the options that are out there — after all, I consider myself a pretty expert train stuff finder at this point, and it took me several different search tactics to discover all the train tables here on this list! And so I hope this list of the best wooden train tables for toddlers and preschoolers will be helpful in your search.Read More
Do you need a train table? The best decision regarding whether a train table is worth the cost and the space will be different for every family and school. So let’s go through the pros and cons of train tables, things I’ve learned through lots of experience and through talking with other parents and Play Trains! readers.Read More
Many parents decide to glue the wooden train tracks to their child’s train table. If you’ve ever watched a toddler playing with a wooden train set — tracks being pulled apart, bridges getting knocked over, the child getting frustrated, and parents rebuilding the layout over and over — it’s easy to see why! But when that same child is old enough to want to build his or her own tracks, that possibility will no longer be open to them. Fortunately, there are several temporary alternatives to glue that preserve the play value of a wooden train set for the future. And if you do decide to glue your tracks down, I have a few ideas for how to keep things interesting for longer.Read More
Painting with trains and other toy vehicles is an excellent process art activity for kids, one that we’ve enjoyed on many occasions. But what I think is even cooler about painting with toy trains is that the patterns left by the wheels can create beautiful kid-made gifts without putting pressure on children to make something in a very particular way. My son had a blast playing and pretending and creating this teapot and serving plate for us to use when we have afternoon tea together. It’s all the more beautiful to me because he was free to paint it in a wild and exciting way that ignited his imagination. Below, I’ll share our experience and give you my best tips for both painting with trains in general and for bringing one to paint with at a paint-your-own-pottery studio.