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A Year of Trying to be a Better Mom

Day 32: Color Train May 22, 2010

Filed under: books,colors,Craft,Games,trains — Erin Brambilla @ 10:58 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Ever since the National Train Day family outing, trains have been subject numero uno on Zach’s mind lately. I mean, “tractors” (construction equipment) is still up there, don’t you worry, but trains are the flavor du jour. So after a fun day of playing at the park, we took a trip to the library to pick out some books. I spotted a book that I thought would be perfect to take home. Zach has been struggling to pick up the concept of learning colors, this book deals with colors. It also deals with trains. Awesome.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

The book is a simple board book. It shows a freight train and each car is a color in the rainbow. Zach seems to enjoy it. To go along with the book we got from the library, I decided to make a little game for Zach to play. The Color Train Game.

I took a long piece of thin cardboard I had lying around. It came in the box a bridesmaid dress was shipped in (that I also recycled for a project!). It’s about the thickness of regular poster board. So, you know, if you don’t have a bridesmaid dress getting shipped to you in the very near future, you could use that instead. I also used some construction paper, markers, scissors, an envelope and a glue stick.

Supplies

I needed each color of the rainbow for both the construction paper and the markers. But I didn’t have purple construction paper, so I just colored a white piece of paper purple. It works. I also didn’t have indigo. But that’s OK, the book doesn’t mention indigo, so we’re in the clear. Poor, left out indigo. I guess it’s a misspelled rainbow–ROYGBV.

My idea was pretty simple: connect a bunch of different color squares, train like, and make a matching game to teach colors. First, I had to figure out how big to make the squares. You might decide to measure. I forgot to grab the ruler from the supply bin and was too lazy to get up. So I guessed. And then cut. And recut. But whatever. It’s only wasted paper…right (note sarcasm)? Those scraps will work for some other projects. After I cut my color squares, I traced them on the cardboard (that I had already drawn some “tracks” on).

Colored squares all fit (there are two black pieces b/c the book calls for a black coal tender and black engine)

Trace the squares and draw lines to connect them, I decided to leave the engine on permanently

Then I took out my markers and wrote in each corresponding square on the cardboard what color paper square belongs there. I also drew a little block line to show the color more. Then I drew wheels, so the train didn’t look like it was floating.

Colors written in

At the top I wrote, “What color are the train cars?”. I was going to consider it done at this point, but then I had a stroke of genius and decided to glue an envelope to it so when he’s not playing the game, there is a place to store the color squares. I am good!

Titled and storage envelope glued on

After Zach woke up from his nap, we read the book together and I had him play the game. He was patient enough to humor me for about 2 color matches and then he just scattered the squares around the play area. Oh well. We can play again later!!

Playing the color train game

What did Zach learn today? A new game. He took some steps to learning more colors.

What did Mommy learn? Measure, measure, measure. Haste makes waste, right? Or maybe it’s laziness that makes waste. Either way. And also Zach LOVES the library. The last time we were there he discovered that they keep crayons and coloring books there for the kids, he doesn’t actually color for very long (at home or the library) but the attraction of it is enough to make him excited to go there. He actually likes bringing the books home to read as well.

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Day 20: National Train Day May 8, 2010

Filed under: daddy,family,field trip,free,trains — Erin Brambilla @ 10:10 pm
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Today we took advantage of another totally free event. In case your calendars didn’t tell you, today is National Train Day. Don’t worry, it’s OK if you didn’t send a card.

National Train Day Activity "Passport"

Cities all across the country today hosted events celebrating the nation’s railways. Since Zach loves trains so much, we went down to Union Station to check out the festivities. And of course, it would only be appropriate to take the train as our mode of transportation downtown. Zach has ridden the train before, but he doesn’t remember it. So this morning when I told him we were going to be riding the train, he got VERY excited.

Waiting on the train platform

Zachary, Isaac and Pete getting ready to get on the train

Here it comes!

Once we were on the train, Zach had a funny little grin on his face the whole time. He just watched everything we passed going by in the windows and named every single thing. Houses. Cars. Trees. Other trains. You name it, he did too. We often take walks in the evening down to the train platform to meet Daddy after work, so to actually ride the train was very special for Zach today.

On the train

The National Train Day Event was probably a little much for Zach to handle. They did have kid areas there with coloring and some train toys and face painting, but it was VERY crowded. He did like looking at the model trains though.

Looking at the display of model trains

I think a lot of people liked the model trains

They passed out lollipops for all of the kids. I wasn’t even going to show it to Zach, but there were a lot of long lines to wait in to see exhibits and this lollipop was probably the difference between waiting in peace or waiting with screams from a bored kid.

Lollipop, lollipop, oh, lolli, lolli, lolli, lollipop (POP!), ba dum dum dum.

Other highlights:

Governor Pat Quinn showed up to speak (they said this was a surprise)

And the awe-inspiring beauty of the Great Hall at Union Station.

Approaching Union Station

Union Station

Zach liked all of the skylights in the arched ceiling

The skylights, arches and columns, they just don't make buildings like this anymore

We also took a break to eat lunch before we went home and Zach did a performance of his “Hot Dog Dance” (a favorite activity at the moment) while wearing his Jr. Train Conductor Hat.

He makes a pretty cute train conductor

Pete looks pretty great in it too

And just to prove that this was a TRUE family event, we took a cheesy, touristy photo. At least they didn’t make us pay for it (though secretly I kind of love it).

All 5 of us are in the pic. Emily and Isaac are in the baby carriers, you can see the tops of their heads. Haha! Oh and this is a pic of a pic, so it looks even BETTER here!

Then, it was time to head home. This was pretty much the best part (aside from maybe the train ride there) for Zach. He was very excited to get on the train again. I have a feeling he’s going to ask me to go on a train ride every day!

Looking at the other tracks out the window

All my boys, riding the train together

Super cute pic of Isaac

My sleepy Emily, napping in the Baby Hawk on the train (a Baby Hawk is the carrier I use for her)

Bye-bye train!

We probably could have skipped the event and just done the train ride today, but it was fun to get out for a family day. Taking advantage of another free event in the city is always fun on a Saturday!

What did Zach learn today? Today was mainly about fun and experience. But he did learn what it was like to ride a train, and can probably relate a little bit now when I tell him Daddy is on the train to come home from work.

What did Mommy and Daddy learn? We are actually pretty efficient, when we want to be, at getting out of the house with 3 small kids. We had 1 umbrella stroller, “wore” the babies in carriers and took only the smallest of diaper bags. I swear I used to carry more stuff with me when Zach was a baby than I do now that I have him plus 2 more. It’s probably one of those “2nd time parent things”.

Daddy would like to add: We didn’t set foot in a car even once today! Cool, right? No worrying about car seats. No gas or parking to deal with. Just our feet and the railways to get us where we needed to go.