Playing With Trains! Train Activities for Kids

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Trains seem to hold an enduring fascination over some children. How often have you gone into a doctor’s office, toy or book store and saw a train table set up for the kids? Are you the parent that secretly groans when you see the train table because you realize how difficult it will be to peel your child away? Over the years, many play time and therapy hours have been spent at the train table. While it can be challenging to find ways to connect while the trains seem to suck every ounce of attention from the child it is well worth the effort. There are many lessons and skills that can be taught at the train table. Try our train activities for kids and enjoy seeing the child learning through play.

Playing with Trains

It is always easier to build skills by tapping into a child’s interest. We have found many ways to use trains to create teachable moments.

Teaching Sharing with Train Activities:

Some children can be very rigid when playing with trains. Just touching one of their trains may elicit squeals of protest. Come prepared with patience and humor. Sometimes it is easier to start with building the track. Take control of all the pieces and hand them over one by one while building. Once the track is made make positive statements like: “I know that you are so good at sharing. What train are you sharing with me?” Sometimes the child will still refuse to share. This is where persistence and a sense of humor are your best tools. Find ways to play with the train set without taking a train. Put blocks on the track to knock down. Keep trying to take a train. If/when you manage to hold on to a train for a while make sure to comment on how much fun you are having playing with trains. With persistence,  even the most rigid child will eventually share.

Discovering Colors Train Activities:

You will need trains, colored blocks, and colored paper.
Make a tent with the colored paper. Have the child load up the colored blocks and deliver them to the matching color tent.

Discovering the Alphabet Train Activities:

You will need paper letters and random toy items.
Game 1: Tape the letters onto the trains. Put them in alphabet order. Sort them into vowels and consonants.
Game 2: Put the letters in various “stations”. Take one of the toys and have the child drive the train to the matching letter.
Game 3: Arrange the trains into short words.

Discovering Numbers Train Activities:

You can use the same games as the alphabet games but for numbers.

Categories Train Activities:

Oh no, all the toys are in a confusing mess! Can you take them to their home? Make a game of sorting the toys by driving them to where they belong.

Paint with Trains!

This is a classic painting activity. get out those trains and use them to paint with. Be aware, though, this activity can get messy!

More Article and Activities You Will Enjoy:

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  1. Oh I love you!!! My mom just brough our train set from the west coast, we are back east now. My kids both LOVE trains and would LOVE to learn this way!!!! I’m so excited to try this with my kids!!!


    1. I love you, too, Alana! Have so much fun playing with trains!


  2. Trains are fun! I love using trains and cars to help kids learn. I’ve used cars for short vowels words but not trains.


    1. Trains are fun but after awhile I need to think of new ways to play with them. 🙂


  3. My dad is a huge Lionel train man…. So I have a deep rooted love for trains. Of course my son has always had them growing up. These are some really fun and inventive ways to use them though. I would never have thought of all of these fun unique ideas!!


    1. Thanks, we like to play while we work.


  4. My son was once obsessed with trains! We bought him lots of tracks which he “decorated” our house with. 🙂 I think my 3 yo will love this too!


  5. This is a great reminder to be more mindful of teachable moments and how kids learn. cheers for that!


  6. Trains are so much fun and a great teaching tool! This is a great list of ideas. My son loves them and we even just had a “Thomas” party for his 3rd birthday. 🙂


  7. Hi Shela. It is a very interesting post. I love all the ideas. Gr8 way to learn with fun. Will sure try these 🙂


  8. Very cool ideas! Z loves trains, I could definitely see her enjoying herself with these!


  9. I love how you have categorized your activity ideas! Great post!


  10. My boys absolutely love trains but I honestly hadn’t thought about the educational play ideas. I’m going to give the letter game a try today, thanks!


  11. I’m kind of in love with this. We have trains at our house. My oldest son (now 8) was a train lover from a very young age. He’s mostly grown out of it, but whenever I bring the trains out the kids seem to gravitate towards them. I will be trying several of these ideas. Thank you!


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