Early Problem Solving with Trains

Today we’re having the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Pinterest take turns hosting posts on each others’ site. We are so lucky to have Jamie from Hands On As We Grow to share this fun post about developing early problem solving skills using toy trains! If you’re not already familiar with Jamie’s site, you will definitely want to check it out for plenty of other hands-on activities to do with the kids!

My post is over at Kids Activities Blog today where I’m sharing 5 Fairy Crafts for Kids. Fun!!

After watching an episode of Curious George that included a hands on activity about finding the shortest distance between two objects, it inspired me to do an activity with Henry, my preschooler, to get him thinking.

We’ve really been into trains lately, so I set up a simple track with him and added a few buildings around the tracks. Including our bakery, house, a few stores, as well as the library and the courthouse.

Set up was half the fun! My kids tend to set up tracks and switch them up more than they actually play with the trains on the tracks. Sometimes it’s almost a puzzle to figure out, and it usually draws me or my husband in for quite a while too!

One we got it set up, I started asking Henry some questions. “Okay, you’re at the bakery, what’s the quickest way to get home?”

Early Problem Solving with Trains

He’d take a look at the tracks and decide what he thought would be the best route and drive his train that way. During his drive, I’d ask… “Would there be a way that could make that quicker?”

And we’d think about it.

What if there were a track that connected these together? Or what if this one when there instead?

And we’d switch up the track to make it work better.

Early Problem Solving with Trains

But then once he got to his destination, I’d give him another place to go to. And again, ask the same questions. As we went along, the same questions arose, but this time thinking about the previous destinations too.

It was quite the activity to get him, and myself, to think about how we set up our tracks.

Early Problem Solving with Trains

What I find very interesting now is that when he sets up his train tracks now, he’s more likely to think about the reason why he’s putting the track where he is. That roads aren’t necessarily just placed somewhere just because, but because it helps people get from one place to another.

Another way to do this activity to learn about distances would be with tape on the floor! We love tape activities and getting down on the floor and figuring out would be right up our alley! You could really get into it with measuring it for real and being accurate about it!

Its easy to get kids thinking and problem solving by just asking a few simple questions in their every day play.

What kind of questions do you ask your kids during play?

I’m so excited to share this activity with the Inner Child Fun readers! [I’ve heard you rock over here!] I hope you’ll stop by hands on : as we grow and check out what 20Moms member, Alissa of Creative with Kids is sharing about toddler activity tips for when you’re playing with the bigger kids.

Great to meet you! And thanks Val!

jamie-headshot-002Jamie is a baker’s wife and stay at home mom of three boys. Jamie began hands on : as we grow as a New Year’s Resolution to do hands on kids activities with Henry when he was 2.5 years old. Read more about Jamie and her family.Follow Jamie on and Pinterest!


  1. I love this activity! We’ll definitely be doing this one, especially seeing as the Little Engineer is really getting into building his own layouts now. Pinning!