Playing on the tabletop train station in preschool

We have been exploring different types of transportation and today we threw in a little fun with trains. We started by reading “Freight Train” by Donald Crews.

This book is a very simply illustrated book of different colors and types of boxcars you will find on a freight train…

After reading the book, I set out foam rectangle shapes and we worked together to build our own freight train. We used the same colors found in the book as a way to reinforce color recognition and to retell the story. We had to go back through the book to remember which color came next…

After reading the book, the children were invited to come on over and check out the table top train station. At the train station, the children found foam shapes (the same ones used earlier), plastic lids (for wheels), and permanent markers….

As a group, we first took a few minutes to explore a little math. The children started by counting wheels and adding them to their boxcars on the train tracks…

Then the children were invited to decorate the foam box car shapes with the markers and play with the materials anyway they wish…

Some of the children stayed and explored the box car materials for quite some time.  Others chose to go off and play in other centers…

I have been saving lids all year long and decided this would be one good opportunity to play with them…

The train grew longer and longer throughout the morning and each box car had a unique design.  The children continued to add designs to the boxcars as they stopped by throughout the afternoon…

By the end of our time for play, we had a nice long freight train to admire…

When it was time to go, some of our students chose to take a boxcar or two home with them.  One of my little girls selected a foam rectangle from the table and as she went running out to the car she shouted, “Look mom! I made a train!”

I am sure there are times when some of my parents take one look at the materials that come home and wonder what in the world their child is doing in preschool!  But my parents are awesome and always supportive – even when all that is brought home is one foam rectangle…

Thanks parents for all your support – and we really did make a train!


Available on Amazon

By |2012-01-08T23:27:03+00:00January 8th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Esther January 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Wow! That’s a fun craft to go along with the Freight Train book! We love the Freight Train book.

  2. Carolyn Wilhelm January 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Wonderful work and imagination! Donald Crews has such great books for pre school and you used this one so well. The kids seem to be so engaged working on this. Carolyn

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      I agree – Donald Crews is amazing!!

  3. Debbie S. January 10, 2012 at 1:12 am - Reply

    I’m going to have to go check this book out at the library. I’m working with my son on his colors now and he loves trains.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      I LOVE this book Debbie:)

  4. Jill @ a mom with a lesson plan January 10, 2012 at 10:22 am - Reply

    I LOVE IT!!! Do you think my husband will be surprised to find a train track running through the house when he wakes up?

Leave A Comment

This site uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using the website means you're OK with this. Ok