Both of my kids became interested in Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway system when they were two years old. I have always been amazed at how this simple wooden toy sustains their attention. It is true that many children and families succumb to the mass merchandising for Thomas toys, clothes, etc.; however, the wooden railway system is a natural toy that is common to many households in America. In my opinion, that is a good thing. Of course, there are many plastic Thomas toys, but I find the wooden railway system of good quality and designed for open-ended play. It is neat to watch a child evolve from depending on adults to build the tracks to creating their own unique track systems, which is very good for learning about spatial relationships. The train play can be open-ended with children making up their own storylines; however, I do know children that rely on storylines from the tv program for their train play. Thomas the Tank Engine wooden toys are expensive, but they do last and you may be able to find them second hand. We began with the figure 8 conductor set, then added an expansion kit. In addition, we have received various individual products as gifts. Thomas the Tank Engine is a very commercial line of toys, but the fact that they are made of wood makes them a natural toy in my opinion. There are other companies, such as Brio, that make wooden railway systems too.
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