Using TRAINS to Grow

Today’s blog is focused on model trains! Trains are a fun way to pass the time, and work on so many developmental goals. Have a look at how playing with trains can support your child’s communication skills:


  • Repeat names of colors, vehicles and items in the train set to reinforce common vocabulary (e.g., bus, barn, bridge). Try using describing words too! (e.g., blue bus, big barn)

Expressive language

  • Encourage your child to combine words to use longer sentences or phrases by adding to their speech (e.g., if they say ‘I have train!’, you can repeat to them ‘Yes you have a green train!’)
  • Chat to your child about what they are making and relate these to real-life experiences. You can use prompting questions such as ‘have you ever been on a bus?’, or ‘are real busses big or small?’.
  • Withhold the train track pieces and trains so that you can work on your child’s ability to request for them as they build it.

Understanding language

  • Model pairs of concepts during play (such as up/down, straight/curvy/, left/right, big/little, under/over) to develop knowledge of concept words
  • You can work on recognizing signs, such as ‘stop’ or ‘bus stop’ signs.
  • Work on following instructions by asking your child to pass you items (e.g., can you pass me the blue train and the green bus?) (4 key words).


  • Create a train schedule. You can place a whiteboard next to the train station to say when the next train is arriving to target reading skills. Similarly, you can target writing and spelling skills by creating a schedule with your child.
  • Encourage the children to read the signs (e.g., stop, give way, bus). For younger children, encourage them to listen for the sounds in the word, or to recognize letters on the sign. (e.g., ‘stop’ has a /s/ in it! Just like your name!).

Social Skills

  • Model and encourage waiting by adding a ‘stop’ or ‘give way’ signs. This is a great way to practice road rules and safety as well!
  • Teach problem solving skills by creating scenarios such as ‘what will the people do if the train won’t come?’, or ‘oh no, the bridge crashed, what do we do?’

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