Choo–oo-oo!! Welcome aboard! Thomas the Tank Engine is coming!
Thomas the Tank Engine is an anthropomorphic locomotive that travels the rails of Sodor, a fictional island. The long-running television series Thomas & Friends starring Thomas the Tank Engine.
A children’s train set, such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Ivor the Engine from the 1970s cartoons, or The Little Engine That Could from the 1990s, allows your child to have fun while learning communication and interaction skills as they drive the train along the track. Whether it’s made of plastic, wood or is themed and licensed, your child is sure to appreciate it!
To help you get started with Thomas the Tank Engine Toys, here are some excellent tips:
Recognizing and Understanding
Hide the train and other specific items across the room and challenge your child to find a specific item.
Example: bridge, carriage
Encourage your kid to name an item before handing it to them and talk about the various pieces of the train and the train set as a whole.
Example: Set- bridge, platform, station, mountain
Parts- wheels, engine
Several children, particularly those with an Autism diagnosis, are interested in specific items like trains. With this, you can utilize it to assist your child in learning and using language while playing. If you believe your child is ‘obsessive’ at times and ‘only’ want to play with their trains, impose defined restrictions and limitations to help them develop flexibility.
Consider the following scenario:
- Restrict the amount of time your child can play with the activity by establishing a time limit (e.g., 10 minutes).
- Use the activity as a motivator to get your child to finish other things that they aren’t as enthusiastic about (e.g., First complete the puzzle, then you can play with the train).
- While your child is having fun with their train set, gradually add other toys (cars, toy people) to the mix. Model and promote suitable play sequences (e.g., a race between a vehicle and a train, toy family getting off the train and then driving home in the car), and your child’s interest in other toys will hopefully grow.
Depending on their skill level, give your child instruction to follow.
Age 1-2: One-level instruction, such as “Please, make the train stop.”
Age 3-4: Two-step instruction, such as “Place the train on the bridge.”
Age 3-4: Three-step instruction, such as “Give me the train, carriage, and stop sign.”
You can take turns by giving each other directions so that your child learns about taking turns and interacting with others.
Encourage your child to move the train around the track on their own.
Example: “My turn,” “Your turn”
Encourage your child’s counting skills by having them count the number of railway track sections, carriages, or wheels on the train.
Place the train track and carriage pieces in front of your child. Encourage them to use a whole phrase/sentence to ask what they want.
Example: “I want a train carriage, please.”
Pronouns: ‘my’, ‘your’, ‘he/she’, ‘his/her’
Encourage your child to tell you the train items they own.
Sample Sentences: “This is my train,” “That is your train,” “He/she put the train on the track.”
Adjectives: long, short, curve
Sample sentences: “You made a round train track,” “I have a long green train,” “This train track piece is straight/curved.”
Boost Child’s Imagination
Assist your child in expanding their creativity by allowing them to play with the train set. Use the train set’s elements to decorate the track (trees, signs, train station, buildings, etc.) or use your imagination!
Encourage your child to act out scenarios like coming to a complete stop at a ‘stop’ sign. Act out real-life scenarios involving rail travel and mimic this with toy persons and characters (e.g., buying a train ticket, showing the conductor the ticket, waiting at the train platform, getting on the train).
Tips for Using Thomas the Tank Engine in Teaching
Recognizing Facial Expressions
Thomas the Tank Engine and his buddies experience a wide range of emotions, including happiness and sadness, as well as embarrassment, anxiety, and fear.
Emotions in Action
Between Thomas and his buddies, there is a structure. Express passenger trains are at the top of the chain, while freight cars are at the bottom. What are the feelings of the freight cars? What exactly do they do? What are the reactions of the main engines? Children with autism can role-play empathy, anger, frustration, and triumph by acting out these experiences.
Percy is what color? Are you able to locate a blue freight car? There’s a green engine right here! Sort by color, look for one color, build an all-blue train, and more.
Developing Science Concepts
Here are a few “try it” ideas: put an engine on top of a bridge and ask your child to anticipate what would happen if you push it. Then try it out to see what happens! Explore attraction and repulsion with the magnets at each end of the engines, or see how many paper clips Thomas can carry.
Moving a magnetic train along a wooden track can be a pain in the neck. Many children enjoy building long railways, which readily fall apart. So, what’s next? Write and share social stories about what to do if the train breaks down, and then practice anger management when it happens in real life.
Fine Motor Skills Development
Thomas Thomas the Tank Engine is an incredibly durable, simple, and motivating tool to practice fine motor skills. Allow your child to drive a long train up, over a bridge, and around a curve for a true motor challenge.
A children’s train set may teach kids to improve their play, social relationships, turn-taking, attention, listening and comprehension, and language use by using the entertaining ideas above.
Even better, Thomas the Tank Engine has grown extremely popular among a wide range of individuals, especially train enthusiasts, allowing you to use your child’s interest in Thomas to introduce them to a far bigger world.