Shoebox Train Craft

Veronika has loved books about trains lately, especially old favorites like The Little Engine That Could. So today we made her a train of her very own!

To set up, I used three cardboard boxes (none of which were actually shoeboxes, despite the title of this post, but they were roughly that size). Make sure the box you choose for the engine still has a lid. Cut two rectangles from that lid, and cut out a “window” from each, then adhere to the sides of this first box as the sides of the engine. Our engine box also still had a flap on the front which was perfect for gluing down an empty toilet paper tube as the funnel. You can also affix an additional flap of cardboard here if needed.

Next, I measured construction paper to fit the sides of each box, and then affixed with hot glue. We used blue for the engine, green for the middle car, and red for the caboose. Cut black circles from construction paper as wheels and glue down. Finally, punch a hole in the front and back of each box so you can tie them together with string. This train was ready to chug along the track!

I pulled it up to the “station” (i.e. the playroom) where lots of Veronika’s stuffed animals were waiting to board. She wasted no time loading her passengers into the train!

She absolutely adored chugging the train all around the apartment, sometimes pausing to let passengers on and off, or sometimes talking to her passengers: “Come on black puppy!”

You can use these train cars in other ways, too, even for color sorting blocks or other toys into the train car with the same color paper. We skipped that part today, though, since Veronika loved loading it up in conjunction with another read-though of Little Engine.

Chugga chugga choo choo!

Alphabet Sand

When I needed to occupy Veronika quickly today, I gave her a little tray of alphabet sand, one of those “oldie but goodie” sensory games that never fails.

What is alphabet sand, you ask? It isn’t sand at all, but my secret mix of equal parts sugar and salt in the bottom of a cake pan. Set it down in front of your toddler and let them practice tracing the alphabet!

For early learners like Veronika, I usually start out by coaching her through a few easy examples like O, X, V, and T. We use our fingers, but also lollipop sticks, which make great “pens”.

After she’s done a few letters, she’s usually ready just to squiggle, or to draw lines and circles. She also loves to let the mixture sprinkle down into the cake pan from her fingers. When she shifts her sprinkling over to the floor, that’s when I know the game is done and we quickly sweep up.

Want something similar but a bit more challenging? Hide alphabet puzzle pieces in the mixture instead!