Check out these DIY train crafts to save money and create something totally special for for your train-obsessed kid.
You could spend a fortune on train toys and accessories for your kids, and they’re still not going to have every train toy and accessory that there is to have.
For a kid who is obsessed with trains, this is very, very, very sad-making.
Fortunately, a good DIY ethic can always save the day! Check out this AWESOME train tunnel/bridge combo from Pink Stripey Socks, made entirely from upcycled cardboard. This train craft looks terrific, it works great, her kid is thrilled, and unlike other Thomas the Train accessories, it didn’t cost a billion dollars.
Intrigued? There’s more to make! Check out these 17 other DIY train crafts below:
1. cardboard box train tunnel. Often, the best toys are also the easiest and cheapest toys. Kids will love this DIY train tunnel as much as they love a cardboard box (and that’s a LOT), and when they don’t, just toss it into the recycling and let them make a new one.
2. cardboard tracks. Keep the modular system that kids love to rearrange, but DIY it yourself out of cardboard.
3. box city. If your kid’s actually not that into trains, then maybe all they need is this box city and railway, constructed anew and left set up for a few days every time a giant cardboard box finds its way into your life.
4. chalkboard painted coffee table. This table has double use–undecorated, it’s a plain old coffee table. At the mercy of a kid with a handful of chalk, it’s anything, including the most epic railway line of one’s dreams.
5. coffee train table. Don’t have room for a train table? Make it do double duty–train table by day, and coffee table by night!
6. DIY wooden roads. If I have one piece of nosy advice to give you, it’s to think hard before you get your kid started on a railway set that you’re going to constantly have to keep buying more of, always with more and better accessories–I’m looking at YOU, Thomas! Seriously, my kids would have been happy as clams with their trains and cardboard boxes, wooden building blocks, these DIY wooden roads, and their huge imaginations as accessories.
7. embellished building blocks. My kids and I have made a ton of these, painted with everything from street scenes to ocean battles to the sky. They LOVE to include them in their imaginary play.
8. engineer cap. If your child is driving the trains, then obviously she needs an engineer cap. I mean, obviously.
9. outdoor road. Don’t give away those extra pavers! Kids will love moving them around and creating their own outdoor roads and train tracks for their toys. I wouldn’t make mine wear shoes while playing with these, because I can barely make them put on bottoms, but you’re a better disciplinarian than I am, so you probably should.
10. portable play kit. Start with an old metal lunchbox, and finish with a portable kit that will allow your child to play cars and trains anywhere out and about.
11. railroad blackboard. Are the kids finally over their toy trains? If so, turn those old train tracks into this cute blackboard!
12. shoebox train. Toy trains don’t have to be small. This shoebox train can give a ride to dolls, stuffed animals, and kittens.
13. styrofoam accessories. Next time the UPS chick brings you a present that includes tons of styrofoam packing materials, upcycle that styrofoam into a set of faux stone walls. They make great scenery, but I have it on good authority that Thomas also LOOOOOVES to smash through them.
14. traffic signs. Make those trains and cars obey the rules of the road! FYI: check out Becky’s post on solving the printable dilemma to figure out how to use printables without guilt.
15. train garden. Kid turns her nose up at the idea of a fairy garden? Fine, let her make a train garden instead.
16. train table. This elaborate train table can rest on top of a couple of low shelves or crates; you can even move it seasonally, to let the kids have their trains outside under a covered porch in nice weather.
17. washi tape train tracks. Skip buying that pricey railroad set-up altogether. Instead, hand your kids a few rolls of washi tape, and let them make their own creative railway over any surface in your home. The best train crafts are the ones your kids design and make themselves!
Photo credit: cardboard train/bridge image via Pink Stripey Socks