Wooden train sets have adorned the floors of our home on and off for the past 45 years! My Opa (grandfather) brought me a set from Austria when I was about 5. Together we spent the afternoon setting out the track around the legs of the dining table (much to my Oma’s annoyance) and telling stories about the trains which ‘choo choo’ed around them. When my son was born, the first thing I bought from an NCT sale was a huge box of wooden train bits and pieces (not the new born stuff I needed!). My partner and I spent hours playing with it until my son was old enough to join in!
Wooden train sets are not just really good fun though, they bring with them a whole host of benefits for your little (and slightly bigger) ones! From the moment those little fingers curl around the smooth painted wood of the train and they make the wheels spin by poking them, your child is learning. And as research has shown us, learning through play is just brilliant and the most effective way of learning for our early years children.
Aside from the obvious benefits of fostering their fine motor skills, playing with your child and their wooden train set brings some lovely together time and a great opportunity for you to be a hands-on participant in their development. Little ones love to talk about what they are doing and you can enhance their vocabulary this by asking questions about the different parts of the track or the trains. As they get older, talking to your child about what they are doing as they build allows them to develop an understanding of sequence (“first we are going to put this here, then we can use this piece, what comes next?” and so on) and introduces them to problem solving (“if this piece goes here then the train can’t go across. What piece should you use?”).
I absolutely love the variety of track pieces that are available these days for wooden train sets - what an awesome lead into storytelling they are! Creating a fantasy track which has dragons, pirate ships and shipwrecks, runs through windmills and over clickety clack bridges is just so exciting for our young engineers! Help them develop their stories by asking them questions about the different stages of the track. Let them explain why the train is making this particular journey or why it has to go through that particular tunnel. This was my daughter’s favourite game – answering my questions in the most random manner whilst still creating a story that kind of made sense!
Problem solving is such a great life skill and one which playing with train sets can really develop. Children need to be prepared to make mistakes and understand that these mistakes can be built upon to gain a better understanding of the task at hand. Children who are prepared to get things wrong, who are risk takers, tend to be those who are good at problem solving. Building a train track is a great way to develop this skill. Putting down a piece of track which doesn’t go the right way is easily rectified and at no great emotional loss. Deciding which piece of track should go there is done initially by trial and improvement (This one? No. This one? Nope. This one? Yeay!) then gradually by spatial awareness (can’t be that one, it is too long) and piece recognition.
My favourite challenge (both for myself and my children!) is to use every single piece of track with no loose ends! Not easy, lots of mistakes, hours of fun!
by Allie White, educational consultant to BrightMinds
As a parent and former-teacher, Allie has a hands-on approach to home learning, believing that the best learning is done together in a relaxed environment. Coming from a make-do and mend background, she likes to create activities for her children that use things already in the home.
Our mission at BrightMinds is to foster “a brighter way to play” to inspire your child to be curious about the world around them & encourage creativity in a fun & relaxed way.
We curate a world-class range of educational toys, games, gifts & books which are good quality, safe and backed by our extraordinary customer service. Wooden Train Sets are our speciality and a Wooden Train Set from BrightMinds is a wonderful gift for your special boy or girl. Backed by our 90 day guarantee we are the number one site for thoughtful toys for kids!