A popular theme amongst toddlers and preschoolers is always transportation and particular trains. There is something really magical about trains that captures their imagination. Taking that interest and incorporation it into hands-on learning and playful learning is fun. Today we have a build your own train that we then use for some maths work based on the book Freight Train by Donald Crews.
Freight Train by Donald Crews
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Cutting Mat – mine is a self-healing cutting mat which can also be used for fabric cutting with a rotary blade I find having a double purpose one reduces the need for storage
X-acto Knife – mine is part of a scrapbooking set but works really well instead of scissors to cut out the playables we have been making recently
Download your Freight Train and print on cardstock.
Cut out around the train carefully.
Where the scissors show cut up to the join between two or more lines.
Score lightly between the train part and the empty rectangle and repeat then along underneath the train parts to the end.
Fold the train and carriage together and stick along the end flap, and one of the large bottom flaps and 2 small bottom laps. Form it together so that the flap with no glue is the last one that you fold to form the base.
Leave to dry.
Attach a hook part of the velcro dots to the end of the train engine and then place the eye part on top. Join the first carriage on and then pull apart. You will find the hook part of the velcro on the engine and the eye part on the carriage. Repeat with the other train carriages.
Now you are ready to play!
Freight Train Counting Game
There are a few variations that you can play with this and I have included some of these other suggestions below but this is the easiest way to play and how we started off.
Set up your freight train with 1 carriage – add to the carriage some of the cargo.
You could predetermine how many you want your child to fill the carriage with or you could randomly choose a number each time. I like doing this with a small bag filled with magnetic numbers that we then pull out the number from.
*Your child is working on counting using 1 to 1 correspondence here*
Once the carriage has enough cargo in then attach another freight carriage.
Fill up the carriage with the cargo for this carriage.
Continue with as many carriages as you want to fill up.
Now take your carriage to the unloading and help your child count out the number of items that the train has carried.
*For young children this is the start of learning about addition*
The game idea above is the ssimplest form of game you can develop it how you want – perhaps you would like them to match the colour of the counters you use to the correct carriage from a selection you have pre-sorted out.
Maybe you are working on counting in 2’s, 5’s or 10’s then fill up with these number of counters and count out the carriages as they go through a chair tunnel how much cargo the freight train has – you may want to print off more carriages for this.
If you want to show doubling fill one carriage with a set number and another carriage with the same number. Now count them out at the unloading point. Repeat but count out all of the cargo and then divide between the two carriages equally showing halving.
I am sure as you work with the carriages you will come up with all sorts of different ideas – if you do please come back and let us know.
Additional Train Resources for Your Toddlers and Preschoolers
Help your child learn their name with a Name Train – not only does it make a beautiful gift but it also will help them learn the letters that make up their name and how to read it. Check out these handmade name trains that can be found on Etsy.
And our favourite of all time train resource – it has to be our Brio Train Set – we started off with a simple set like this Brio Farm Set and added in extension packs and other items over the years. Perfect for imaginative play.
More Transportation and Freight Train Themed Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Each week the coordinators and cohosts of the Virtual Book Club for Kids share activties, crafts and recipes inspired by the weekly theme and featured book. Check out this week’s ideas and inspiration below.
Alphabet Train– Teach Beside Me
Freight Train Name Craft – Clare’s Little Tots
Train Carriage Counting Game – You Are Here
Transportation I SPY & Graph Printable – School Time Snippets
Train Track Card Game for Preschoolers – Preschool Powol Packets
Transportation Playdough Mat – The Moments at Home
Transport Sand & Water Play – My Bored Toddler
Chocolate Train Cookies – Inspiration Laboratories
Fingerprint Train Ornament for Kids – The Educators’ Spin On It
Freight Train Drawing Prompt – My Storytime Corner
Easy DIY Paper Train Table for Kids– Toddler Approved
Geometric Shapes Train – Mama Smiles
Pin this Freight Train Inspired Math Game to Play Later
Share this Counting Game for Toddlers and Preschoolers with Others on Facebook
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.