Train Track Paper Play Mat {Inspired by Freight Train}

Train Track Paper Play Mat | Mama Papa Bubba

Another week, another round of Preschool Book Club with our lovely online friends – Buggy and BuddySugar AuntsFrogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, and Homegrown Friends!

This time around our book was Freight Train by Donald Crews, a colourful book centred around the different types of train cars and their colours.  The story follows the train through tunnels, by cities, over trestles, and eventually into the night where it disappears out of sight.  

I’m not going to lie…  This round was a little trickier for us than others.  Not because the book isn’t a great one {it’s actually a classic and a Caldecott Honor Book!}, but I just don’t think Miss G and I identified with this one quite as much as the other books we’ve done recently {check out our Ish, Beautiful Oops, The Day the Crayons Quit rounds}.  The book is quite simple when it comes to the text and Grae has recently really gotten into chapter books, so that paired with the fact that her big train stage happened quite a while ago meant that I had to work a little bit harder to come up with an activity that I knew she’d really enjoy.  That being said, I think I was pretty successful!  I focused in on Gracen’s love of art and together we created a table top train track paper play mat using a pool noodle, which she thought was pretty cool.  The best part is that while the project was truly about the process, we now have a fun new play mat to inspire all sorts of imaginative play.

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To get started, I chopped off two chunks off of a hollow pool noodle we already had {making sure that one was longer and the other was just a little bit longer than the pool noodle was wide}.  Then, I carefully sliced both chunks in half vertically to create four pieces.

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Then,  I covered the old coffee table we most often use for play with some brown craft paper while Miss G retrieved our copy of Freight Train, a tray, and some washable tempera paint.

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Since we had already read the book several times throughout the week, Gracen asked if she could retell the story to me instead of us rereading it before starting our activity like we normally do, which was fine with me!

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Then it was time to get started on making our pool noodle train tracks!

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With black paint smeared all over our tray, Miss G covered one of our long pool noodle pieces with paint and got stamping.

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While I had envisioned a complex track with multiple intersections and curves, Miss G was set on a rectangular track around the edges of the paper, so that was that.  I sat back and watched and let her go for it.

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After completing the basic shape, we both went along with our shorter pool noodle pieces to add the perpendicular railroad ties.

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As with the longer rail stamps, the key here was putting the pool noodle down in place and then pressing it down gently to ensure a good stamp.

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Before long, our track was done!

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While we waited for our track to dry, Miss G decided that our train track play mat needed some scenery {just like our cut and paste car play mat has}, so she flipped through the book and decided on some mountains and some tall city buildings.  We decided to stick with our stamping method to add the scenery, so I cut a couple of basic building shapes and a mountain shape out of some kitchen sponges and added a couple of triangular trees just for fun.

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Then we grabbed some paint and some of the old styrofoam trays we keep for art purposes, and got to decorating.

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Grae decided that we should have distinct areas for cities and for forests and mountains, so we went with that and lined our tracks with colourful scenery.

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Before long, our play mat was done and ready to dry.

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My little superhero was so anxious to try out her new track that it felt like the drying part took forever, so I let her test it out just a little while our mountains and trees were still wet. ☺

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In reality, it probably took only about an hour to dry fully, but who can wait that long?!

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In the coming week, we may move the tack down onto the floor to free-up our table for other play invitations, which I think will add a new twist to the play Miss G comes up with.  She also has plans to add people to our cities and animals to our forests, so things could get interesting!  {As they pretty much always are around here. ☺}


Ready to see what our Preschool Book Club friends did with this book?  Check out these fun projects:

bookclub freight train math game  |  freight train block building  |  sponge painted train

Want to try a little preschool book club of your own?  You can see the entire series here.


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5 thoughts on “Train Track Paper Play Mat {Inspired by Freight Train}

  1. This is really clever – thanks for the inspiration. I love the tutu, too, and the bam! belt. Awesome!

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