Kids are full of imagination and creativity. Watch kids on Christmas morning. Boxes are almost as much fun as the toys that come in them! The great part about this creativity is that it can be harnessed to create some amazing things. The new book Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Petersen gives kids a great opportunity to re-purpose old toys and create new ways to have fun. It also presents an opportunity to do a lot of fun train activities with your kids!
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Old Tracks, New Tricks was written by Jessica Petersen, the creator of the blog Play Trains! This book follows a set of tracks who are excited that they will finally get to play with the trains and the other pieces of tracks. They soon find that the trains make the rules and don’t encourage creativity and originality. These determined tracks refuse to fall in line and end up having a lot more fun. They teach the old tracks and the trains that they can have more fun doing new tricks and playing games. This is a great book to encourage kids to think outside the box and be creative!
Painting with Trains – Gather some train toys (preferably ones that are easily washable). Set them out onto a table with some paper plates and some paint. Have kids roll their trains through the paint and then roll them across the paper. They will love making train track art using their favorite trains!
Hop along the train tracks!
Train Track Obstacle Course – Using masking tape, create a set of train tracks on the floor. Have kids follow the train tracks from one end to the other. Make the game increasingly more difficult by having them hop along the tracks, or follow the tracks backwards. You could also have them jump from square to square counting by twos or spelling their name. There are a lot of ways that you can adapt this activity for your kids and their skill levels.
Train Track Trivia Hop – This is a fun activity to get kids moving while working on desired skills. Using masking tape like above, create two sets of train tracks on the floor. Have kids stand at one end of the train tracks to start. Ask them a question based on the skills you are working on (math facts, spelling, shape/letter recognition, etc). If they answer correctly, they can jump to the next square on the tracks.
Kids who are working on the same skills can compete to answer first. If you have two kids playing at different skill levels, you can have them take turns answering. If you only have one child playing, you can stand on the other set of tracks and take a step forward if they answer incorrectly, or have them ask you a question that you have to answer! (Better brush up on those Paw Patrol characters!). The first one to make it to the end of the tracks wins!
Take a ride on the alphabet train!
Alphabet Train – This is a fun activity which can be done in two ways. Cut 26 rectangles out of colored paper and write one letter of the alphabet on each one. Lay them out end to end on the floor or on a table top. Tell your kids that they have to search the house to find items that start with each letter of the alphabet. When they find one, they have to bring it out and place it onto the train car with the right letter. (You could also have a preset group of items for them to sort if you would rather keep them contained).
Another way to do this activity is to have your kids search through old magazines to find pictures of things that start with each letter of the alphabet. Cut them out and glue them onto the respective letter squares.
Old games, new tricks
Building New Track Tricks – Use the photos in the book to create new tricks for your train tracks to do! Encourage kids to use their imaginations to use the tracks in new and different ways. The author shares ideas on her website and asks that readers do the same!
Recreating Old Toys – Do you have pieces of old games and toys around that no longer have matching sets? An UNO deck missing half of it’s cards, or puzzle pieces without a board? Encourage kids to repurpose these old toys into something new! Let their imagination run wild and see what new games and hybrid toys they can come up with! You might accidentally create a new family favorite.
It is so important to encourage kids to be creative and to think outside the box, and this book is a great starting point! These fun train activities will also help them to use their creative thinking skills. These skills can help your kids to be more adaptable and resourceful, which will help them later in life!