Tot School: Train Theme

by Melanie on November 7, 2013

24 Months Old

Train Activities

Our latest theme was technically ‘trains’ with a focus on the letter T, but it really encompassed all manners of transportation. As you’d expect of any 2 year old boy surrounded by trains, cars, planes, and boats, he had a jolly good time!

I decided to take a break from printables this time, so our theme was mostly tied together by going on field trips- to the train depot, to the airport, to the lake with our toy boats, to the toy store’s train table, and to the Kentucky Science Center. On these trips, we observed different types of transportation as we talked about how people get around. We also swung by the Louisville Zoo to ride on their train, but it turns out they already closed it for the season. Oh well. We still enjoyed the orangutans, even if they don’t have wheels!

Letter: Tt

Object: Train

Vocabulary Development Theme: Transportation

  Train Theme Tot Trays

 

Train Theme Tot Trays

From left to right, top to bottom: 1. Play-Doh Vehicle Prints, 2. Car Tonging, 3. Water Transferring, 4. Vehicle Puzzles, 5. Car Color Sorting, & 6. Cars Coloring Book

We used these trays to work on the following skills:

  1. Play-Doh Vehicle Prints (creative play/molding with hands)
  2. Car Tonging (hand-eye coordination/color recognition)
  3. Water Transferring (hand-eye coordination/transferring/balance)
  4. Vehicle Puzzles (matching/vehicle recognition)
  5. Car Color Sorting (color recognition/sorting/counting)
  6. Cars Coloring Book (using writing utensils/color recognition)

I want to start with the Car Color Sorting tray. We used this tray to reinforce color recognition and practice counting. It included his carry box full of matchbox cars and 5 colored cups which coordinated with the colors of the cars.

While setting up the tray, I made sure that all the cars inside matched a colored cup and that there was room for all of them once the container was emptied so that there could be a set completion for the activity. He loved it!

Train Theme Tot Trays

After looking at each car, he blurted out the color and dropped it into its cup.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Filling up the green cup.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Here’s a yellow one!

Train Theme Tot Trays

He was very playful as he did this activity!

When we were done, we dumped out each cup one at a time and counted the cars.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Rocket counting the purple cars.

We own a stack of 3 Vehicle Puzzles that I put together on a tray for review of our vocabulary words. We returned to this tray frequently to go over our words, especially since I decided not to create a magnet set for this theme.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Working on one of his favorite puzzles – the Melissa & Doug Vehicle Sound Puzzle.

Train Theme Tot Trays

We have a match!

Train Theme Tot Trays

He also had fun “driving” the puzzle pieces on the floor!

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Water Transferring tray, but he always gravitates right to it when we do. This tray included a measuring cup full of water, a plastic squirt bottle full of water, an eyedropper, an empty ice tray, and an empty blue cup. I let him decide how to move the water around using the tools and containers provided.

Train Theme Tot Trays

From the blue cup to the measuring cup. Notice that tot school does get messy and that’s perfectly okay!

Train Theme Tot Trays

Transferring water from the squirt bottle to the measuring cup.

Train Theme Tot Trays

It was his least preferred tool, but he did use the eyedropper a little bit to move water.

On days when the weather was nice, we took our trays outside. For this one, he was able to get sloppy without me having to blot the carpet with a towel when he was done!

Train Theme Tot Trays

Trying something new- poking the eye dropper into the squirt bottle. 

Train Theme Tot Trays

Getting the ice tray filled with the squirt bottle.

Train Theme Tot Trays

The measuring cup was great practice for holding a steady hand.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Filling the blue cup up with the squirt bottle.

I love watching his creative mind at work during water transferring. I never quite know what he’ll do next!

We have a Cars Coloring Book that he worked on for handwriting practice since we didn’t do the usual printables.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Coloring the car’s window.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Coloring the wheel.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Putting the cap back on the marker.

  I think I’ve mentioned in recent tot school posts that Rocket’s big thing lately is using the tongs. I set up a tray of Car Tonging, which consisted of a large bowl of cars to be transferred over to a party platter tray using tongs. I included cars of various sizes to make this project more challenging for him. He was drawn to the activity right off the bat and concentrated deeply to accomplish the goal of transferring all the cars using only the tongs.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Dropping a car into the tray.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Caught this one by the tire!

Train Theme Tot Trays

Using a second set of tongs to transfer more cars.

The Play-Doh Vehicle Prints tray involved two colors of Play-Doh and several vehicles to imprint. He made prints with the cars, the helicopter, the train, and a loose wheel.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Making prints in the Play-Doh.

Train Theme Tot Trays

After making prints on one side, he turned the sheet of Play-Doh around for a clean, flat surface.

Train Theme Tot Trays

Driving the car through the Play-Doh.

Train Theme Tot Trays

And why not try some hand prints too?

 

  Train Theme Sensory Tub

 

Train Theme Sensory Tub

Sensory Tub Filler Material:

  • Sand

Sensory Tub Featured Items:

  • Cars
  • Airplane
  • Train
  • Helicopter
  • Plastic Structures

Sensory Tub Exploratory Tools:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Railroad track

We had a simple sensory tub consisting of a filler that some vehicles might actually drive on sometimes: sand.

I added a railroad track for Rocket to make imprints in the sand and Popsicle sticks for probing and digging. This sensory tub was most certainly messy and involved vacuuming the schoolroom after every play session. I can assure you that the messiest ones also seem to be the favorite ones!

Train Theme Sensory Tub

Driving the yellow car over the sand.

Train Theme Sensory Tub

Poking at the sand with a Popsicle stick.

Train Theme Sensory Tub

At one point, he decided to bury the airplane in the sand!

Train Theme Sensory Tub

What a fine sensory experience a fistful of sand is!

 

Tot School Toys

 

Other Toys

I want to introduce you to Rocket’s favorite toy.

This is no ordinary fly swatter. He carries his “blue guitar” all over the place with him, sometimes strumming on it with his fingers and other times, strumming with the pick. He sings and acts like a rock star as he plays it. He also “tunes” the pegs.

Sometimes, we let French Fry Monkey (his stuffed animal) play the guitar too. You can see him holding his blue guitar in many photos on this post because it goes everywhere with him!

Other Toys

Strumming on the blue guitar with his arsenal of picks beside him.

Other Toys

He often begs for a real guitar. Until the day that dream becomes reality, he’s happy with his blue guitar!

 

Train Books & Current Reading List

 

train books

We don’t always find a lot of books for our tot school themes at the library. But we did for trains and transportation!

Our bookshelf was overflowing with train books. A few of them have become favorites. We’ll be moving those to our bedroom books bin after the train theme is over and continue reading them until Rocket loses interest. I’ve posted affiliate links to his favorites below.

Train Books:

      1. Tractor Day by Candice F. Ransom
      2. Miles To Go by Jamie Harper
      3. Five Trucks by Brian Floca
      4. ABCDrive by Naomi Howland
      5. My Car by Byron Barton
      6. Truck Stop by Sallie Wolf
      7. The Bernstein Bears- All Aboard! by Jan & Mike Bernstein
      8. My Big Book Of Trucks & Diggers by Caterpillar
      9. Engine, Engine, Number Nine by Stephanie Calmenson
      10. Let’s Go For A Drive! by Mo Willems
      11. I Spy A School Bus by Jean Marzollo & Walter Wick
      12. Rattle And Rap by Susan Steggall
      13. A Train Goes Clickety-Clack by Jonathon London
      14. The Rain Train by Elena De Roo

Current Favorites Outside The Schoolroom:

      1. Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler & R. Gregory Christie
      2. Just Like Daddy by Frank Asch
      3. Hush, Little Baby by Brian Pinkney

 

Train Craft

 

Train Craft

This was actually an art project with toy cars rather than trains, but the same concept can be executed with toy trains. We had so much fun with this one!

The invitation was set up like this:

Train Craft

On the far right, we had our blank canvas (which as you can see, is already wrinkled from previous painting projects). On the far left is a tray with 3 different toy cars and a container with 4 different colors of finger paint. Lastly, I set out a bowl full of water.

Rocket put on his painting shirt (an over-sized tee devoted solely to messy projects like this one) and we went at it!

But where are the paintbrushes? The cars are the paintbrushes!

Train Craft

Dipping a car into the paint to get started.

Train Craft

Vrooooom, vroooooooom!!!!

Train Craft

Using the water to clean off the car between dips.

Train Craft

The bigger car made much larger tracks on the paper.

Train Craft

The big car was by far his favorite “paintbrush”!

Train Craft

Painting the blank corner of the page.

Train Craft

Please note that blue hand of his. Always use non-toxic paints when doing art projects with toddlers.

Train Craft

He got paint all over his hands, arms, knees, and face! I’m glad we did this one outside.

Train Craft

Round 2: After finishing his painting, he insisted on a fresh canvas!

Train Craft

His second painting.

If you try this at home, make sure to wash the cars off immediately after the paint job. It’s going to be much harder to get them clean after the paint dries!

 

  Train Activities & Other Fun Things

 

1. Riding On The 4-Wheeler.

Rocket loves his Kawasaki 4 Wheeler, so of course we had to take a spin around the house in honor of transportation week!

Train Activities

Beep, beep!

Train Activities

Looking at these photos, I’m not sure how much longer he’s going to fit on this thing.

2. Toy Boats At The Lake.

We brought our toy boats to the lake in hopes of comparing them to a real boat. However, no one was on the water except these friendly ducks and geese. Good thing we brought bread!

Train Activities

3. Birthday Cards.

I kept Rocket’s birthday cards out for a couple of weeks after his birthday. It made him feel so special to go back and examine the pictures while I read them to him.

Train Activities

Feeling loved!

Train Activities

Trying to read the card himself.

Train Activities

This card was his favorite. Unsurprisingly, it featured all kinds of animals playing musical instruments!

4. Playing With Cars Outside.

We were blessed with beautiful days for our transportation theme. One of those days, we took our toy cars outside for some rugged play time.

Train Activities

Balancing a car on the tow truck.

Train Activities

Playing with his wooden fire truck.

Train Activities

 These tiny cars called Nano Cars are his absolute favorites! Here he is letting one ride in the old Chevy.

4. Transportation Fun At The Science Center.

You guys are probably sick of hearing about the Kentucky Science Center by now, but it is seriously one of the best places in Louisville to take toddlers! Our last visit was especially awesome because it was Dad’s first time joining us. Here are some moments we had exploring transportation at the Science Center.

Train Activities

We started with his favorite exhibit at the whole place: the bus!

Train Activities

The driver on the bus says, “Move on back!”

Train Activities

Dad & Rocket did some serious medical examinations in the ambulance.

Train Activities

Next, we took a tour of the airplane.

Train Activities

Dad & Rocket even gave each other high fives through a rocket ship window!

Train Activities

Smiling before take-off.

Train Activities

Rocket on the construction site.

Train Activities

These boys also explored a real Gemini trainer together.

Train Activities

Look at all those knobs and switches!

Train Activities

A flight simulation mission.

Train Activities

Driving a car.

5. Bowman Field Airport.

On a different day, we went to a small airport in town called Bowman Field to see how people move around in the sky.

Train Activities

Checking out the model airplane inside.

Train Activities

We saw some neat painting in the airport of old planes!

Train Activities

And of course, we saw some neat airplanes parked outside.

Train Activities

Mesmerized.

6. Ship In A Bottle.

Our good friends D & O gave Rocket a late birthday present since they were away on vacation for his party- a ship in a bottle! How fitting for transportation week.

Train Activities

What a cool present!

Train Activities

Rocket examined the ship in a bottle as I talked about how it was made (I had to do some research on that one). He really wanted to get it out!

7. The Train Depot.

What would a train theme be without a train?

Train Activities

Welcome to the train depot!

Train Activities

Don’t worry. This track is out of service!

Train Activities

Stopping to pick at the weeds.

Train Activities

We saw a fallen railroad crossing sign, which Rocket promptly decided was a drum!

Train Activities

Observing the railroad track.

8. Train Set At Home.

We don’t have a fancy train set, but we do have a small track that I was able to set up for him this week.

  Train Activities

Aligning the train to the track.

Train Activities

He preferred sitting right in the middle!

9. Train Table At The Toy Store.

I also took him to the toy store, which is next door to our grocery store. They have a nice train table set up for the kids there.

Train Activities

Since our library recently removed their train table, we come here every once in a while for him to play.

Train Activities

Pushing the train through the doors.

Train Activities

Down the hill. Choo-choo!

10. Driving The Truck.

This is something I let Rocket do from time to time- “drive” our truck. He loves it. The truck is actually running while he pretends to do big boy driving stuff!

Train Activities

He’s got important places to go!

Train Activities

Pretending to honk the horn.

Train Activities

A happy truck driver.

Train Activities

Fiddling with the key in the ignition.

Train Activities

“Can you turn the radio down?” I asked. “Oh yeah!” He answered.

Train Activities

“Can you turn the heat off?” “Oh yeah!”

Train Activities

“Can you roll up your window? Unlock the doors?” “Oh yeeeaah!”

11. Washing The Truck.

This activity was perhaps the biggest hit for our theme on transportation. And the truck got clean for the first time since we bought it too!

The invitation was simple. Soap & water, a sponge, and some microfiber towels.

Train Activities

It was all set up next to the truck.

Train Activities

Without direction, Rocket knew just what to do!

Train Activities

Dipping the sponge into the soapy water.

Train Activities

Cleaning away!

Train Activities

He scrubbed the dirty spots that I showed him while I tackled the upper portion of the truck.

Train Activities

From the front to the back.

Train Activities

Even the F250 badge got clean!

12. X-Track.

My sister gifted Rocket this Kidoozie Build-A-Road X-Track for his birthday and we decided to give it a whirl for one of our weeks on transportation. I highly recommend this set, especially for children who love cars and wheels! The track is very flexible and can be built in many different combinations. I think as he gets older, he will be more interested in the process of building the road. For now, he was more absorbed in watching the battery-operated cars crash into each other on the track!

Also, Dad loved this toy as much as he did!

Train Activities

Putting the car through the tunnel.

Train Activities

And over the tunnel!

Train Activities

Here, the cars are turned off. They run through the tracks by themselves when turned on!

Train Activities

Repositioning the track.

 

Song Of The Week & Music Time

 


Our song of the week was “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad.” This was a new one to him, but he learned the words fast.

He’s also still beating on this drum set of his, every day!

Music

Drumming by the fire.

Music

Rocket took this picture from his drum stool.

Music

Drumming with his buddy Mike!

At the Kentucky Science Center, he got on a microphone and sang his favorite songs to everyone in the room. A new musical experience and as you might be able to guess, he didn’t want to stop!

Music

 

Technology Time

 


We watched this Auto-B-Good Faith Builders DVD we just snagged on sale at a local store. It’s even cheaper on Amazon!

I like that this series teaches moral lessons using cars as main characters. It was something different for Rocket, as we don’t own a TV and rarely watch shows.

 

Mom’s Favorite Moments

 

Mom's Favorite Moments

A kiss for Dad at the fireplace.

Mom's Favorite Moments

And a hug, too!

Mom's Favorite Moments

Dad & Rocket at the Kentucky Science Center.

Mom's Favorite Moments

Watching Dad split some wood for the fireplace.

Mom's Favorite Moments

Guts, dads, and toddlers!

 

More Tot School Resources

 

Check out these link-ups for more tot school inspiration:

1+1+1=1

Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas

No Time For Flash Cards

Living Montessori Now

True Aim Education

The Educators’ Spin On It

A Mama’s Story

Hip Homeschool Moms

Mama To 5 Blessings

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jacqueline @ Deeprootsathome.com November 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm

What a special post on teaching your son! I predict that one day this will be priceless to him :) You and your husband are good teachers!
Many blessings to your family!

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