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Pediatric Therapy Corner: Toy Talk- Toy Trains

by Natalie Lopez, DPT
I was inspired to write this post because one of my patients has a number of toy trains and toy train accessories that I have managed to incorporate into our treatment sessions.
Why do I love toy trains?

  1. It’s a toy with a lot of pieces (which I love for doing practicing any gross motor skill!)
  2. They can be connected to each other which is a spin off of stacking blocks and a little easier if you’re doing a balancing task
  3. They can be a universal toy for both boys and girls
  4. Thomas the Train continues to be a popular toy that kids like to play with
  5. Is a toy that can be used for kids who aren’t walking yet as well as for kids who are running around
  6. different toy trains are made to be used for all ages
  7. great toys to use for cooperative play and teamwork

Physical Therapy uses for toy trains:

  • multiple pieces to use for repetitive activities like obstacle courses
  • can practice walking in a squatting position while pushing toy trains along the tracks from a standing position when train is on the floor
  • can work on kneeling when train is on a table
  • I hold toy trains up in the air and make my kiddos reach up on their toes to grab the train
  • you can play scavenger hunt with toy trains to encourage walking and moving around different areas
  • to really challenge balance, you can try having a kiddo push a toy train with their foot to encourage balancing on 1 leg
  • you can practice stepping over obstacles by walking over train tracks trying not to knock over the trains

Occupational therapy uses for toy trains:

  • works on different grasps and holds depending on the size and shape of the train
  • can work on planning an activity by deciding the order of the train ahead of time and then following through with their plan
  • requires 2 handed activity when trying to connect the trains together
  • you can practice recognizing different emotions if using different Thomas the Train toy trains
  • toy trains come in a variety of textures

Speech therapy uses for toy trains:

  • comes in a variety of colors to work on learning/saying colors
  • can practice saying the different train sounds
  • can practice the different train actions (pull, push, up/down hill, fast/slow)
  • can talk about the different actions on the parts of the train
  • can practice saying all the names of the Thomas the Train toy trains

Featured Contributor and Website:  Natalie Lopez of Beyond  Basic Play
Natalie Lopez is a Doctor of Physical Therapy working in Los Angeles.  She graduated from USC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in 2009, and has been working in pediatrics in a clinic and natural home setting since Fall, 2010.  She enjoys working in physical therapy so much that she even made her dog, Bear, a therapy dog :) .  Natalie says that she is loud, energetic, and loves to talk, and as a result, has found her calling in working in pediatric PT.  She enjoys running around all day after her kiddos as she helps them reach their milestones.  She also enjoys educating their parents along the way to help her patients reach their full potential.  Natalie created her blog in order to educate others about pediatric PT and anything else relevant to pediatrics.
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