I can’t really remember how Kor Kor started his love affair with trains, especially since I used to dislike Thomas and his friends. (Now I have grown to love them. I judged them before I knew them. My bad.) Kor Kor has been playing with trains since very young, and one of the best decisions I made was to get him wooden tracks.
My choice back then was influenced by what I had read online and in books.
The feel of wood. The texture. The solidness. I believe young children can appreciate the beauty of good-quality toys. Wood is a natural material and it’s like the children are feeling something real.
More durable than plastic tracks. Won’t break no matter how the child stands on it or stamps on it or throws it around. Withstands vast amounts of roughhandling. (This is very important when there are younger siblings around!)
Kor Kor built with train tracks way before he was really playing with blocks. He builds railways, simple in the beginning, much more complex now. I see how the tracks function like blocks. Both are for building, aren’t they? Building with tracks is no less open-ended – he can let his trains go in any direction, according to his current play.
And yet it is not that easy to connect the tracks in a complete layout. The railway can’t just go on and on; there are loops and sidings and stations and bridges to consider. He has to take into account the shape and size of the available pieces – some are long, some are short, some are straight, some are curved.
It’s like a puzzle.
Learning through open-ended play? But of course : )