Hello, my fellow home childcare professionals. Earlier in my career, I had a train table set that provided play specific to trains or small toys that could fit on the tracks or table. That kind of play was limited to a particular fixture that took up lots of space in my small home daycare. Yes, the tracks were fixed in place, and the play was specific to the table’s design. I eventually sold that train table and swapped it for the kind with two sides I could flip and alternate the play based on the sides. One side was plain green, and the other side had a scene that mirrored a train track surrounded by trees. Again the children would play in a way the train track was designed. When I flipped the plain green side over, the table was used for various kinds of play, including storing stuff. Do you ever have a desk, chair, or table that becomes the landing spot – the collector of stuff? That train table became the drop zone, that storage piece we often leave leftover crafts, paper, playdough, pencils, etc. At times it was easier to stop at that train table than to put objects where they belonged.
I find that children prefer the floor, they love to go low, and maybe I am biased because I also love sitting on the floor. I love sitting on the floor with the children. We often play and read many books when on the floor. I feel connected with them when I am at their level.
Here is an example of our early years play with trains.
Here is another example of the same floor space in our home childcare with different vehicles.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about a train table.
- Playing with trains helps children improve their social skills by taking turns and using language to communicate with others; it leads to vocabulary building and imaginative storytelling.
- Building with trains helps with mathematical skills and concepts. For example, children learn concepts – on, in, beside, over, on top, above, under, plus, more, less, connect, together, fit, small, large…
- Think about your space. Can a train table comfortably fit into your home daycare?
- Is a train table necessary – some educators prioritize another piece of furniture over a train table.
- Is having a train table in alignment with your teaching philosophies and curriculum goals?
- Children’s imaginative play occurs with or without a train table.
- An assembled train table may reduce the creativity and problem-solving needed to fit the tracks together or to create an open-ended play.
- Do you operate a mixed-age daycare with younger children? Will infants have access to these small trains? Does your home setup allow older children to play without younger ones knocking down their play?
In conclusion, there are benefits of children playing with trains, and some children are especially in that connecting schema of play. I encourage my educators to think about their home space. Do you have room for this piece of furniture? If you don’t, all is not lost. Due to the specificity of that table, I chose to facilitate that kind of play in my home childcare by utilizing our floor space or the activity table.
Side note – Our activity table is very versatile – we use it for many kinds of play: painting, raising our butterflies, sand play, magnet play, snow play, water play, loose parts play, and much more. A post demonstrating the use of our activity table will follow soon.
Until next time, I am Miss Sue, your partner working alongside you and the one in the trenches with you daily.
Xoxo Miss Sue