Two years ago I created a DIY Car Track Busy Bag using items from Poundland. The track is still being played with and appears indestructible. It has always been on my to-do-list to make a train track busy bag. As this weeks Virtual Book Club theme is trains I had the perfect excuse to finally make one. It was time to make a Polar Express Train Track Letter Puzzle.
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First I needed to decide upon the material to use. I didn’t want to use a door mat like I did with the Car Track Busy Bag but I remembered how much fun Adam had when he played with our Learning Shapes With Toy Cars activity. I had used wet and dry sandpaper and wanted to use the same material. However, there was one obstacle that always got in the way of me making this activity – how would I make the train track markings on the sandpaper? I couldn’t make a curved edge with white electrical tape, white paint would be too fiddly and I wouldn’t be able to draw a line using Tipp Ex. The solution came to me whilst Adam was decorating his Christmas Tree Plate (blog post coming soon). I realised that our new Chalkola Chalk Markers would work perfectly. I don’t know if the Chalk Makers were designed to be used on sand paper but they certainly worked well for us. The white chalk maker was easy to use on the sandpaper and didn’t require any drying time. With the Chalkola Chalk Markers I could now create the Polar Express Train Track Letter Puzzle.
I must point out that my original plan hadn’t been to create a puzzle element to the activity. Originally I had wanted to draw a lowercase letter of the alphabet onto black sandpaper, cut out the letters and Adam could use the letters as a train track. However, I only had 16 pieces of black sandpaper. Instead of giving up I quickly changed plans. I realised that I could still make large sandpaper letters as long as the letters were cut into smaller parts. Although this made the process of making the sandpaper letters longer, Adam loved the puzzle element to the activity.
Materials needed to make a Polar Express Train Track Letter Puzzle
* Black Sandpaper – we used wet and dry sandpaper from Poundland similar to this
* Sharp scissors
* Recycled box
How to make a Polar Express Train Track Letter Puzzle
1) Print off the blank display lettering from Twinkl. I wanted the letters to be big so enlarged the print size to 2×1 Poster size.
2) Cut out each letter. Then cut each letter into straight and curved sections. Be sure to write what the letter is on the reverse.
3) Turn the letter parts over and trace around them on the back of the black sandpaper. Try and fit as many letter pieces onto each page of sandpaper. Remember to write what the letter is again.
4) Cut out the sandpaper letters.
5) Form the sandpaper letters to ensure that all 26 letters are there. Use the white Chalkola Chalk Pen to draw train track lines on each letter.
6) Decorate a recycled box to store the train track letters in. I used another piece of black sandpaper to decorate our box.
How to play with a Polar Express Train Track Letter Puzzle
Adam was extremely excited by the prospect of a letter puzzle let alone the fact he could play with his trains on it. Whilst sorting through the sandpaper shapes, Adam realised that a letter was written on the back of each piece. He started to organise the puzzle pieces across our living room floor.
Once Adam had enough pieces to create the first nine letters of the alphabet, he turned over the sandpaper to start making the train track.
Adam then searched for the pieces to each letter in order. He continually sang the Alphabet song throughout the activity and I loved hearing him describe the shape of the pieces he was looking for.
Once the alphabet puzzle had been completed, Adam was able to play with the train track. The track was the perfect size for his Thomas Mini’s. However, I knew it wouldn’t be long before cars started to make an appearance.
Whilst I was making the puzzle I was concerned that the activity would be too difficult for Adam. I thought that there were too many small pieces and that he would get bored. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. He loved the challenge and was excited by each letter. Our Polar Express Train Track Letter Puzzle can be stored in the recycled box and could be used time and time again as a Busy Bag. Whist making the activity, I thought I was mad cutting out all those letters but it was certainly worth it.
Disclaimer: We received a pack of Chalkola Chalk Markers to review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
TRAIN THEMED LITERACY ACTIVITIES
Beginning Letter Sounds Train Ride from Rainy Day Mum
Spell My Name On a Train from Powerful Mothering
TRAIN THEMED MATH ACTIVITIES
Polar Express Jingle Bell Count from JDaniel4’s Mom
Train Shapes from Craft Create Calm
Geometric Shapes Train from Mama Smiles
SENSORY TRAIN ACTIVITIES
Trains & Magnets Sensory Bin from Preschool Powol Packets
Painting with Trains from Views from a Step Stool
Train Cake from Mama Smiles
ACTIVE TRAIN ACTIVITIES
Train Pretend Play Fun for Kids from Toddler Approved
Train Ride Yoga from My Storytime Corner
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