Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thomas the Train Teaching Developmental Milestones

My son and his train track!
In case you missed it, my son is bananas over Thomas the Train!

One of our go to toddler activities is playing with our Thomas the Tank Engine. We play with the wooden railway system all day long! We will spend hours upon hours building train tracks and interconnecting railways. After we have built our train track it is time to line up the trains and race our engines on the track.The tank engines and tracks have become too numerous for our train table alone. It is a Thomas the train takeover!

Now if only I could find the Chuggington Wooden Railway. We LOVE Chuggington and have spent several hours searching for the Chugginton wooden railway system in Toy’s R Us, Babies R Us, and Target to no avail. I guess we will just have to make do with what we have for now.

I have recently made the discovery that this toddler activity is another great opportunity to work on my two-year-olds developmental milestones.

Instead of having mommy simply build the train tracks we work on it together and talk about what we are doing. When we play with our Thomas the tank engine and all of Thomas’ friends we discuss who they are and their characteristics. When we play make believe with the trains we talk about emotions.

Playing trains is not just a way to pass the time. Playing with trains can turn into cool math games for the whole family. For example, you can work on number sense by counting trains. Another cool math game you can use trains for are simple word problems using addition and subtraction with train cars and destinations. Using concrete objects (things children can see and touch) when working on early math skills is a must!

At age two playing with trains can help with the following developmental milestones:

Gross Motor: This is the ability to use large groups of muscles to sit, stand, walk, and run.  Train play works on Gross Motor development by having children pick up and carry several trains or train tracks at a time while walking. I have my son bring me several trains from the storage container to wherever we are building our tracks.

Fine Motor:  This is the ability to use your hands to be able to eat, draw, play, and write among other things. Train play works on Fine Motor development by having children connect train tracks to one another. I have my son connect the train tracks that we use when building our railway.

Language:  This is the ability to communicate and understand what others say either through speaking or using body language and gestures. Train play works on Language development through the recognition of train characters and the ability to follow simple instructions. I ask my son to name the Thomas the tank engine trains and his friends. I also give my son directions for where to take the trains on the train track.

Cognitive:  This is the ability to think. It includes learning, understanding, problem-solving, reasoning, and remembering. Train play works on Cognitive development through the problem solving strategies needed to create a connecting train track as well as the imagination used for playing make-believe. My son love to create interconnecting train tracks that branch off in all directions. He also likes to play make-believe with the engines. Someone is always coming, “To the RESCUE!

Social:  This is the ability to interact with others.  This can be demonstrated through relationships with family, friends, and teachers. It is the ability to cooperate and respond to the feelings of others. Train play works on Social development through the interaction of the child with an adult or through the interaction of the child with another child. My son has recently started sharing his trains. This has been a work in progress for us and is still something we continue to work on. Especially with his favorite trains!

As a stay at home mother it is important for me to feel like I am providing my son with the skills he will need throughout life. I worry that he will be developmentally behind because I failed him or wasn’t able to provide him with what he needed. I think this is a common fear among mothers.

I love discovering fun ways to help my children learn and develop.

I am also happy that I get to have a little fun too.

Written by: Laura Andry

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