Toy trains encourage your child to use her imagination.

Train Theme Activity & Games for Kids

by Shelley Frost

All aboard for loads of train-themed entertainment! Even if she has other interests, you won't find many young kids who pass up the chance to marvel at a train. Traveling by train isn't as common these days, but you can bring the excitement of the engine and train cars right to your home with themed games and activities.

1. Games

A little creativity turns classic games into a train-lover's dream. "Simon Says" becomes "Train Conductor Says" and "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" becomes "Pin the Hat on the Conductor." Turn "Follow the Leader" into "Follow the Conductor." Loose Caboose is another popular kids' game. Have groups of four or five kids form a chain and ask one or two kids to play as individuals. The "trains" move around the area with the single players trying to connect onto the back. When one individual joins a train, the first person in that train then goes out on her own to find a new train to join.

2. Crafts

Your little one gets to see the creative side of trains with these themed crafts. A train made from random household objects is one idea. Items like egg cartons, empty food boxes, bottle caps and craft sticks work well. Let your child build her own train replica with the items. For younger kids, a paper train picture is easier to handle. Cut out shapes from different colors of paper. Your child can glue the shapes onto a large piece of paper to create her own train. Another craft idea for kids of all ages uses a toy train. Dip the wheels of the train in washable paint and let your child drive it around on a piece of paper.

3. Pretend Play

When turned on its side, a large cardboard box, such as one that holds a new refrigerator, becomes a train to encourage pretend play. A smaller box stacked onto one end on the top side of the box creates the look of a train engine. You can cut out windows and doors to add to the train look. Let your child paint the outside of the box to look like a train. If you don't have a large box, an alternative is to set up chairs in a row for a makeshift train. A conductor's costume helps your child get into character. A pair of overalls, a conductor's hat and a train whistle works well.

4. Books

Train-themed books give your little learner more information about how the vehicles work and are used. A mix of fiction and non-fiction train books provide a well-rounded view of trains. You'll find a variety of kids' non-fiction books that show pictures of different types of trains and give information about how trains operate. For creative stories about trains, try picture books such as "The Goodnight Train" by June Sobel, "The Little Engine That Could" by Watty Piper, or Lois Lenski's "The Little Train." As you read the books, encourage your little one to ask questions, explore the illustrations and act out the train-themed scenes.

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