Exploring numeracy concepts with trains

Exploring numeracy concepts with trains


Playing with trains and constructing train tracks is a fabulous way of developing language that will support children’s early numeracy understandings. For toddler-aged children, this includes understanding positional/directional language (e.g. over, under, around), size (e.g. small/big, short/long), distance (e.g. close/far) and order (e.g. first, second, now, next, after)

Start by assisting your child to construct a train track that has a variety of characteristics including bridges, tunnels, hills, corners, train stations and other features. This can be a long track or a short track. It can have one path or multiple paths.

Assist your child with selecting trains and carriages to play with and place them on the track. Describe the colours, shapes and other features of the trains and carriages your child selected.

Play with your child by driving your train and carriages around the track describing where your train is travelling. For example: My train is going up the hill and across the first bridge. Now it is going down the hill and through the tunnel. Next my train will drive around the corner and stop at the station. After three seconds, my train will drive across the second bridge and along the straight piece of track, before it .

Depending on your child’s language ability, you may wish to encourage them to describe where their train is driving.

Promote learning by:

As your child drives their train around the track, you can support your child’s numeracy development by:

  • describing the train’s movements (e.g. your train is going up/down the hill, through the tunnel, over or under the bridge, around the corner)
  • describing the trains position relative to other objects on the track (e.g. the train is near or far away from the tunnel, or your train is getting closer to the bridge, your train is driving away from the station)
  • counting the number of carriages being pulled by a train with your child
  • comparing the number of carriages being pulled by more than one train (e.g. this train has more/less carriages than that train)
  • discussing the terms forwards/backwards and encouraging your child to demonstrate the direction of each using their train.

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