How to Build Your Own Train Table
Train tables are a fun way to extend play with your little train lover after trips to places such as a train store, train ride, or on a train walk. They are especially wonderful for younger children that are not ready to plan and create complex train tracks independently.
Our train table was built as an insert for our existing light table. This was a HUGE space saver for us. Rather than have both a light table and a train table, we rotated between the two. Since these are large pieces of furniture that could easily monopolize the playroom, this is a great solution. We later went on to build a chalkboard and lego table insert as well because this train table worked so well for us. For this simple train table, you will need to start with another table, such as a light table. A simple child size play table would also work, but the train table would need to be permanently attached to the table.
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Gather your supplies. See the materials list below!
Get your piece of wood ready. While the size and type of wood do not matter, we found that 1/4” Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) was a good combination of being both light and durable. We also found that the 2' x 4' size was enough for two full loops; though to be fair it is also our standard project size as it sits on top of our home light table (We are still working on a post about our light table creation).
NOTE: If you are starting with a larger board you may want to figure out your train track layout and available space in your house before making any cuts to reduce the size of the board.
Paint the base. When you have a board size you like simply apply the green textured spray paint and allow for one day to dry. Make sure you are spray painting in a well ventilated area preferably outdoors. We chose to use green textured spray paint on untreated wood as the combination of the brown wood color and textured green made the play space more realistic.
Lay out your track in the pattern of your choice. It took us a few tries to find something that fit and something we liked. Once completed, lift one piece at a time and apply the wood glue to its underside. Press firmly into place and move on to your next piece. Let sit for another day and then your children are ready to have fun with this preset train track.
Play! Add the train track table to your playroom with a basket of trains nearby.
Your child(ren) will likely discover the new train table quickly and set to work putting together a train. If they don't have much practice with this, be on hand to support any frustrations with getting the cars hooked together. Typically, a simple reminder to turn the train and try the other side was enough. From there, let them explore as you would with any new material.
How adults can join the fun:
*Model expanded play. For example, model making train noises as you drive or pull into a station, demonstrate loading frieght into cars or dropping it off, or add cars that are waiting to cross the tracks at a railroad crossing.
*Try to integrate things that most interested your child(ren) on your train adventures.
*Use new language to describe their play. (Over, under, freight car, bridge, etc)
*Add people and stations to your layout and play.
*Add snow with cotton during winter or seasonal freight for the cars.
2’x4’ piece of 1/4” Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Green Textured Spray Paint
Wooden Train Track
Wooden Train Cars (BRIO, Thomas, some Melissa and Doug, etc)
Optional* Child Sized Table (We built ours to fit into our light table)
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