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DIY Train Box

This post contains affiliate links. All activities described by Strength In Words assume close and continuous supervision of the child by an adult. 

One of my favorite play materials is a large box, like a cardboard box, plastic storage bin, or laundry basket. They are great open-ended play items, and I often create "vehicles" out of common household objects to help create a multi-sensory experience for my own son while singing a song or a chant, as we did on the corresponding podcast episode Holistic Learning (March 11, 2016).

It's easy to imagine how many different versions of vehicles might be made, and how many different songs or chants - or even simple noises - you might make! Today, we'll focus on creating a "train," and move to the rhythm, creating a full-body, multi-sensory experience by getting inside! If you have a younger infant, you might hold her in your arms as you sway so she can experience the movements, as well. In addition, you might use a paper roll microphone, which we discussed in a previous podcast episode, "Play With Words," a bell and a whistle to heighten the experience further, or simply your hands!

Materials

  • Box or bin (plastic bin like the one featured below, cardboard box, laundry basket,baking sheet, pizza pan etc.)
  • Instruments (toilet paper roll microphone, bell, train whistle, or just your voice)
  • Optional: blanket or pillow (for added comfort and/or support), "train track" for added imagination, costumes or other props

Instructions

  1. Take an empty bin / box / basket / baking sheet that is large enough for your toddler (or older infant who is able to support him/herself upright in a seated position, with whatever additional supports you need to ensure she can support her trunk/core muscles while the container is swaying)
  2. Sing a song or rhythmic chant about trains. Some ideas:
    • Choo Choo Train (featured in this week's podcast, Holistic Learning)
    • I've Been Working on the Railroad
    • The Wheels On The [Train] (instead of the bus)
  3. Put together rhythm, movement, words, concepts (opposites like backward/forward, fast/slow, etc.), and imaginative play (where age and developmentally appropriate) to create an interactive, playful experience between you and your child.

Ages

  • From birth, your baby can benefit from the movement of your body and sounds of your voice - so instead of placing a younger infant in a bin, you might simply hold her or gently sway a cradle to the rhythm of your song.
  • In addition to developing her social/emotional, cognitive, and communication abilities, you're also going to target her motor development when your older infant can support herself and engage her core muscles to stay upright as you move the container! This can be a wonderful core strengthening exercise (for more information and ideas for core strengthening in toddlers, preschoolers and beyond, see this link from the brilliant occupational & physical therapists at theinspiredtreehouse.com)

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Ayelet Marinovich, M.A. CCC-SLP

Ayelet Marinovich, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist specializing in work with pre-verbal infants, toddlers, non-verbal children, and their families. The Strength In Words podcast and blog were created as an additional resource for families of young children with infants & toddlers of all developmental levels. It is not intended to be a substitute for speech and language therapy.