Looking through photos from last year, I found this fun fall-themed zoo train activity. The Little Engineer and I came up with it by combining the loose parts from our October Moon Train Play activity with our DIY Zoo Train Set. I thought it was a great way to show how the activities we share and the materials we recommend can be mixed for an endless variety of play. So, here’s a little glimpse into how the stuff we come up with for Play Trains! works its way into our everyday play.
This is often what happens at our house: we create activities for Play Trains! that are fairly specific — or, at least as clear as we can make them. And then, once we’ve tried out the idea and put away the camera, we mix them all up into something crazy and wonderful and hard to describe. This particular play session happened after we were done playing with the October Moon play invitation. It was a pretty simple one, and while the Little Engineer enjoyed it, it wasn’t something that he wanted me to leave set up for more than one day.
The clear acrylic pumpkins and fall leaves migrated to where our upcycled train zoo was, and soon he was building a new track through the zoo and hauling pumpkins for the animals to eat. (Like many zoos, the two that we visit in our area do special holiday-themed enrichment activities for the animals, including feeding them pumpkins and using the pumpkins to deliver their food at Halloween.)
Giving the pumpkins a purpose — feeding the animals — turned out to be a much more interesting concept for the Little Engineer than using them for light play. No surprise there, considering he loves animals, and any kind of pretend play involving taking care of them.
If an activity doesn’t ignite your child’s imagination immediately, try looking around for an additional material to add to it, something that adds a new relationship between the objects and ideas involved. And even if a child really enjoys an activity, it can be even more fun to see what it evolves into with a little creativity.
Looking for more creative train activities for YOUR kids?
Grab a copy of Old Tracks, New Tricks! In the fun, rhyming story, three creative little wooden train tracks stand up to the bossy trains and teach the whole train set that old tracks — and trains! — can learn new tricks. Full instructions for the 20+ “track-tivities” in the story are included in the back of the book, along with an illustrated guide to teach kids how to create their own “track tricks.” You can find tons of extension activities at the Old Tracks, New Tricks website!