Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Triple Tuesday (A Day Late) Trains!

Boys have certain things programed into their DNA and I have learned that liking trains is one of those things.  We have train birthday parties, train underwear, train toys, and lots and lots of train books!  Here are three train books that we really like and want to share with you.

Thomas and the Freight Train
A Chunky Shape Book
Illustrated by Owain Bell

My ten-month-old is loving this chunky book right now.  Chunky books have the perfect size and shape for little hands to hold and grab and turn pages.  It is so fun to see my little guy work on his book handling skills with this book--he gets so proud when he can turn a page a see what Thomas the Tank Engine is up to next.  The illustrations in this book are full of action and detail, but the story is quick and simple.  So you can turn the pages fast--which is what we do if Little Guy is in charge of turning--or you can spend time on each page talking about all the goods Thomas carries in his freight cars like wood, sand, coal, ducks, pigs, cows and horses.  Lots of fun reading possibilities for such a little book!

I Love Trains!
By Philemon Sturges
Illustrated by Shari Halpern

This board book has a simple story and simple illustrations to match.  I bought this book for our oldest when he turned two and had a train birthday party.  He enjoys books at a higher reading level than this one, but he is also still practicing how to gently handle books, so that is why I picked out a board book story to give him.  Another reason I picked this particular book is the rhyming story.  Big brother has been into rhyming for a while, and I thought this would give him some fun practice.  It also teaches some different vocabulary like grain, logs, steel and scrap (metal).  Those are my reasons for liking the book.  I think Big Brother likes it because the father of the little boy who tells the story works on the train, and it is fun for him to see the boy wave to his dad as he rides by their house on the train. 

That's Not My Train...
An Usborne Touchy-Feely Book
By Fiona Watt
Illustrated by Rachel Wells

Another board book!  That's Not My Train delights the senses with shiny trains, bumpy trains, rough trains and rusty trains.  It is so fun Little Guy giggles when we read it.  This book out of all three is probably the one most geared for young ones, yet Big Brother enjoys it because the text is so simple he remembers the words and can "read" it to his little brother.  Look at the pictures below to see the fun we had making our train books come to life!  Also, check out our favorite train songs and some fun links and ideas for train activities.

Since the train fettish started, we have enjoyed watching the train videos on the vidz4kids channel on YouTube.  You can find different train videos there, of trains carrying different things like letters, shapes, and fruit.  These videos are a fun way to train your brain!  One of our favorites is the letter train.

 After watching it over and over, I thought it would be fun to make our own alphabet train to choo-choo around our wall at home.  So we found a simple way to construct a train out of shapes from this website.  We made the engine, and then freight cars to follow it.  The freight cars are simply made from a large rectangle and four circle wheels.  Then we put a letter in the car.  Our train is a work in progress--right now we are on the letter D.  Big Brother helps trace the letter after I write it.  After we finish the entire alphabet we plan to clip pictures out of old magazines and put them in the freight car with the object's beginning letter sound.  For example, we will clip a picture of an alligator for the "A" freight car, or a picture of a ball for the "B" freight car.  Here are a few pictures of our alphabet train.

Last Friday we rode on an Ice Cream Train at the Belton, Grandview and Kansas City Railroad Company.  If your family lives in Kansas City, I highly recommend taking a trip on the Ice Cream Train or other rides the BGKCRC offers on their museum train.  The train makes a 5-mile, forty-five minute trek, beginning and ending on Main Street in historic downtown Belton, Missouri. 

All of the volunteers running the train were so kind and made the experience fun.  A sweet lady acted as the tour guide announcing what we were passing as we rode, and she gave little tid-bits about the train.  Apparently, the car we rode in was in the movie Biloxi Blues with Matthew Broderick.  If you click on the link above you can read more about the history of the train and the BGKCRC.  The conductor and engineer dressed the part and were happy to pose for pictures--you could tell they love what they do and the families they do it for.   

**Please note the times listed on the website are correct, but we were charged a $10 fare for the Ice Cream Train, and they only accept cash or check payments.  The company is a non-profit organization run by volunteers, so when you call the number you will only be able to listen to the automated message (which gives lots of helpful information) or leave a message.  If you need more info than the message gives, make sure you call a week in advance of your trip as they take one to two business days to return your call.  Also, the train does not have air conditioning so bring cash to buy water bottles on the train or bring your own!**

We were so excited!  Big Brother gets so serious when he does
something new.  :)

Spying the conductor!

All aboard!

Waiting to get our tickets punched.  Holding on tight so we
do not lose them (like the boy on The Polar Express)!

And then for the ice cream.  Reminded me of the "Hot Chocolate"
scene in The Polar Express.

This dining car was part of the gift shop/museum train
(not the one we rode)--straight from the Fifties, too cool!

Yay for trains and conductors!!

One last train thing!  Check out these awesome train songs:

"Train Song" by Charlie Hope on the I'm Me! A Collection of Songs for Children album, and
"Little Red Caboose" by Laurie Berkner from her Buzz Buzz album.

Happy train-ing!

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