Railroad tracks guide the train, acting as the low-friction surface on which the train runs and often transferring the weight of the train to the ground below.
A railroad track consists of two parallel steel rails set a fixed distance apart, called the gauge. The rails are connected to each other by railroad ties, which may be made of wood or concrete.
The rails are usually bolted to the ties. The ties are set into the loose gravel or ballast. Ballast often consists of loose stones that help transfer the load to the underlying foundation. The ties “float” on the ballast and the weight of the track keeps them stabilized.
To help your little ones understand this process, we hammered our own train tracks! Using egg cartons, golf tees, and wooden hammers, we practiced a host of important developmental skills!
The first skill is that of real work. What is real work? To the young child, real work (work that is representative of the real world) is intrinsically rewarding. It gives them the opportunity to participate in the learning process by “doing” what they are learning about! The second skill lies within the social-emotional realm. This occurs, because engaging in real work that is physically taxing is also a wonderful way to work out feelings of frustration or anger for a young child.
Digging a deep hole with a shovel, moving dirt in a wheelbarrow, carrying wood, or hammering nails are all also fantastic outlets for a child’s pent up energy. Hammering nails can become rhythmic (once you get the hang of it) and is very satisfying.
Lastly, they can actually see the direct result of their expelled energy as the nail moves into the wood (in our case, a golf tee into an egg carton) after each whack of the hammer. All in all, the completion of these skills help contribute to the development of the whole child. Most importantly, we had fun while doing it!!!