We got our first set of Brio Trains when the girls were just toddlers. Since then there has been a long love affair with trains in our house.
We’ve now got a huge selection of wooden train tracks, roads and associated accessories, and each Christmas or birthday we seem to need an even bigger box to store it all in.
Some of the Brio, Plan Toys and Thomas pieces we have are not cheap, but some are Ikea and Imaginarium pieces that are compatible and not super expensive. All in all, it has been worth all the money to get a nice big collection of trains because when they come out (and they do often) everyone (even the big kids) spend hours playing with them.
The thing about trains is that they spark imagination.
It doesn’t take long before we are off to find some animals to populate the zoo in the middle of the train track, or some cars to line up in the parking lot. Of course we need people… oh and some wooden blocks to make houses for them. Before long we have a whole city built on our lounge room floor.
Without realising it, just by playing and having fun, all three kids have been learning a heap of important skills.
They practice problem solving and maths concepts such as length, orientation and spatial awareness as they put all the tracks together, trying to join up ever more elaborate paths. Social skills such as sharing, negotiation and conflict resolution, not to mention communication skills are all being developed. Their language skills are blossoming while they take on roles and pretend to be people, trains and cars etc.
This is true open ended play and learning… and it’s wonderful to watch and be a part of. I can almost see my children’s brains growing and taking in new information before my eyes. It doesn’t even bother me that I will be stepping over and around this track for the next day or two.
Have you got some ‘Train Love’ happening in your house?