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Teaching Two Year Old about Trains

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Teaching Two Year Old about Trains
Posted by GP-9_Man11786 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 8:54 AM

My two-year-old son seems to share my interest in trains, at least for now anyway. So, I suggested doing some kind of train-related activity for his daycare class and his teacher loved it.  Now I actually have to come upwith some activities for the kids.

I have a portable N Scale layout and some G Scale trains at my disposal that the kids could drive. I have aso reached out to Operation Lifesaver for some coloring books. My wife suggested making some paper frieght cars the kids could color and then make a big train out of.

Do you have any other suggestions? I would also like to have some information about model trains for the parents.

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 9:09 AM

When my nephew was 2, my sister-in-law (as well as me) got him some of the Thomas the Tank Trains (non-electric). Kids at that age like to pick things up and touch them. I would look to see if anyone has some of them their kids outgrew and would like to donate to your cause. I like the idea of reaching out to Operation Lifesaver as well. 

I think at that age, with the 'electric' aspect, they may be too young for it. 

Good luck!

Neal

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Posted by dstarr on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 9:10 AM

Take them somewhere they can see and hear a real train in motion.  That will impress them.  Might take some planning, and knowledge of train schedules, most rail lines only see a couple of trains a day, so you have to know when they run and get the kids there at just the right time. 

  Are there any rail museums like Steamtown or the B&O museum near you?  As a field trip, the time is less critical, the museum is there all the time. 

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 9:13 AM

edit me too, I missed the presentation part  Still wood trains are indestructible.

N scale might be a bit much for a 2 year old.  Get him a Thomas the train and some wooden track. Yes they have motorized versions but back in the middle of the last century, wooded tracks and trains were lots of fun and pretty much bullet proof.

Henry

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 9:22 AM

Edit: Oops, I didn't read the original post well at all. The advice i gave below doesn't make sense for a one-time presentation, although if you can borrow some BRIO-style trains for the occasion, the children would probably enjoy them.

===

My experience with younger children suggests that they are most interested when they can handle things themselves. BRIO-style wooden non-motorized trains were perfect (as others have suggested).

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Posted by G Paine on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 9:40 AM

At Boothbay Railway Village, we had some handouts about model railroading geared to young and beginners. It talked about getting started in model RR. Check with Kalmbach customer service. Tell them what you are doing with the young class, you might get some for free.

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch 

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 10:32 AM

Brio or Thomas the Train - for two advantages:

  1. Hearty and will withstand the handling of "developing dexerity".
  2. Allows children to develop their imaginations as they tear down and put together track in all sorts of configurations

Tom

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 11:20 AM

Back when I was that age, Marx and perhaps other brands had lines of wind-up trains that ran on 0 scale 2-rail track.  The trains themselves were O-27 sized and were "genuine" tinplate, meaning real metal with most details painted on.  I think mine even had a headlight that used a D or C cell battery.  I have some recollection that the 0-4-0 locomotive had the general outline of a shovel nose streamlined steam locomotive, sort of like the Milwaukee Road's 4-4-2 and 4-6-4, or some of the NYC Hudson streamlinings.  The couplers were a tab and slot sort of thing.  You'd wind up a key and the trains would run for a minute or two.  

The nice thing about clockwork trains is that they totally satisfy a child's (and adult's!) fascination with a little machine that moves (fast) on a self guiding system of tracks while eliminating the issues of electricity and wire from the equation.  And they kept moving even if they derailed!  Those were my trains until I graduated to real Lionel at age 5.  One accessory I remember to this day - a gray plastic semaphore that had a small spring and fitted under the track - the passing train would lower the semaphore while it passed.  I was entranced by that toy.  Wish I still had it actually.

There were also clockwork automobile toys back then.  Pull back a lever or wind up the side key and off it would go.  

I have no idea if clockwork toy trains like that are still made but I doubt it.  A pity.  

And before there was Brio, I had a little village with a sheet of green painted peg-board (Masonite) where roads and railroad tracks were painted on it, and there were very simple little pine trees, "houses," autos and trains, all very basic forms of brightly painted wood.  No real wheels, the wheels were painted on.  At age 2 or 3 that kept me busy for hours.   I cannot now recall if the trains coupled together using dress snaps or magnets.

The other thing I loved (and other kids my age seemed to love too) was getting inside some sort of enclosure.  Sofa cushions made a fort, but if some kid's folks got a large appliance that came in a cardboard box --- hoo boy we had a truck or a railroad caboose or a locomotive! 

A big box painted up a little to look like a locomotive or caboose or passenger car with "real" windows could be great fun at that age.  You also need something that makes some noise, a bell or horn or whistle.  

Dave Nelson 

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 1:46 PM

Electric trains and little kids don’t mix well. At that age kids are very hands (and mouths) on. Get him some of the toy trains that they push by hand. I had the ones made by Child Guidance. They were great. Image result for Child Guidance trains
As for preschool, there are videos they can watch like Thomas etc.
Another idea is to find a park that has live steamers and arrange a field trip to go ride on them.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 1:50 PM

P.S. Some of the Operation Lifesaver videos are cartoons which are aimed at children.

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Posted by carl425 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 2:15 PM

I second the vote for Brio.  My son loved them at that age.  It didn't stick though. Smile

 

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 8:25 PM

 I remember that grey plastic track stuff, I had that when I was a kid. Nothing like that fancy schmancy turntable though!

 Brio or the knockoffs - yes. The G scale would be OK. N scale is almost certainly too small for most kids that age.

 That Sly Fox and Birdy cartoon is the one I saw with my oldest when he was about 4. And it worked, too. A few months later I took him to Strasburg, just him and me, as his new baby brother was getting quite a bit of the attention. While waiting to eat in the dining car at the Caboose Motel, some older kids were putting coins on the track for the last train to run over. He actually (no fear, when he was little) went up to the mom and told her she should tell her kids not too do that, it was dangerous. She naturally ignored him, so he came back to where I was sitting and made me move us over to another seat away from where the coins were.

 Sadly, now that they are booth in their 20's, neither is interested in trains.

 I do like that idea where they each color a freight car and then they get strung up together - dunno if they still allow those paper fasteners that you bend the two prongs out on the back to hold things together - I remember using them to put wheels on things, but they'd make great couplers. Probably not allowed these days since they are a little sharp.

                         --Randy

 


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Posted by joe323 on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 6:16 AM

Lone Wolf and Santa Fe

Electric trains and little kids don’t mix well. At that age kids are very hands (and mouths) on. Get him some of the toy trains that they push by hand. I had the ones made by Child Guidance. They were great. Image result for Child Guidance trains
As for preschool, there are videos they can watch like Thomas etc.
Another idea is to find a park that has live steamers and arrange a field trip to go ride on them.

 

I had those too along with the Child Guidence buildings which I still use on my layout Ebay is great for finding that stuff.  But at 2 years old wood is the way to go. 

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 1:39 PM

rrinker
That Sly Fox and Birdy cartoon is the one I saw with my oldest when he was about 4. And it worked, too. A few months later I took him to Strasburg, just him and me, as his new baby brother was getting quite a bit of the attention. While waiting to eat in the dining car at the Caboose Motel, some older kids were putting coins on the track for the last train to run over. He actually (no fear, when he was little) went up to the mom and told her she should tell her kids not too do that, it was dangerous. She naturally ignored him, so he came back to where I was sitting and made me move us over to another seat away from where the coins were.

That is a great story. Smile

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Thursday, August 10, 2017 9:43 AM

I would reccommend the skipping of N scale at that age as well.

OLI was a good idea, in my area they give little ones coloring books, and card-stock engineer caps that they can color and then wear.

If there was a safe area to do so, a railfan trip could work. (In my area, there is a rail museum right alongside the CSX (former NYC) Chicago main. There is a fence that separates the active tracks from the museum. Unless someone climbs the fence, they can't get on the active tracks. That would be the place to go in my area. Other locations I frequent when railfanning, there is no safety zone for kids. It is all open, and, if a little one(s) were to wander, they could easily wander onto the track(s). If it is one or two kids, these areas might work, with close supervision, but I would seriously think carefully before attempting with multiple children. With a group Pre-K trip, safety fences will be a good thing, IMO.) 

Maybe I missed it, but, did anyone mention a trip to ride a train? Somewhere like http://www.octrr.org/ where they can enjoy a short ride, and parents/family could also enjoy it.

As a side note, I also had a set with the grey track when I was little, though not as big and fancy as the pictured one. As a little kid, I loved that set. 

Hope this helps, and that all enjoy it!

Ricky W.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, August 10, 2017 10:49 AM

At that age World War II was just around the corner for me.  I have no recognition of trains until I was 8 years old.  I have no idea where or how my Dad got my first train in 1945, WWII was still in full swing and everything was rationed.  He gave me a Lionel 2-6-2 027 for Christmas with three cars and a loop of track, I was hooked for life.
 
Now days the High Tech stuff is tough competition for the little ones.  I purposely leave some train stuff laying around for the little ones (now Great Grand Children) to pickup and play with . . . . so far trains have lost to Tablets.  Only one of our offspring out of 24 took to trains and now (17) he has a car and a girl friend so he’s a goner too.Crying
 
Good Luck!
 
EDIT:
 
My wife was looking over my sholder, the offspring count is 29.
 
 
 
Mel
 
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Posted by kasskaboose on Saturday, August 12, 2017 10:47 PM

So happy that you started this threat Sir.  I have five-year old twins and one stands on a bar stool to watch me work on them.  We watched a video tonight before bed and he started identifying the types of cars rolling by!

I would suggest a youtube video showing that trains operate across America.  Another suggestion is finding the location of a nearby hobby store or NMRA group for the parents.  Yes, Thomas is useful for teaching the kids, but plenty of other options are available.

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