Thomas the Tank Engine is one of the most widely known children’s fictional characters in the world. For over 60 years Thomas and his railway friends have been entertaining and teaching children through delightful stories of exploration and imagination. Children view these stories through many different venues such as the many Thomas videos and books available on the market or the “Thomas and Friends” series that appears on televisions across the globe. Thomas has a bright, can-do outlook and leads his friends all over the Island of Sodor, where they reside. Their adventures teach children valuable lessons about self-discovery and the benefits of cooperation with others.

Thomas creates powerful connections between children and trains. This bond helps children to learn and understand what the Thomas stories teach; pro-social behavior, life, fairness, making friends, losing friends and all of the feelings and emotions that go along with all those things.

There are many different types of Thomas the Tank Engine toys available today but the most popular are the train and track play sets that are available with various themed destinations such as sawmills or mining depots. These play sets offer children the opportunity to explore, learn, pretend play and use their imagination as they create their own magical adventure or re-create one of their favorite Thomas and Friends adventures.

Thomas the Tank Engine play sets help to develop physical, math, social, cognitive and spatial skills. When building play sets, children often create their own track configurations. They begin to understand about needing more or less track and what kind of track, curved or straight, to make their configuration work. Hand and eye coordination and fine motor skills are required to assemble track, accessories and operate play set systems parts and engines.

As a child’s skills begin to grow, they will usually begin to build more elaborate track configurations and layouts by adding more track, buildings, tunnels, bridges and accessories. Creating these layouts promotes problem-solving and simple math skills such as addition or subtraction. They quickly learn that if they have 4 pieces of track but only need 3 that leaves 1 piece left. Numbered engines encourage counting skills and number identification and brightly painted engines reinforce color identification.

Cognitive and spatial skills are very important concepts that children begin to learn when constructing larger play sets. They start to realize that bridges go up and down with a high point and a low point. Tunnels teach about the concepts of going in, going through and coming out the other side. Children must think abstractly in three-dimensional patterns and to plan ahead in logical sequences to design and build their magical creation.

Thomas play sets are also a great way for children to learn alone-time, which helps develop intrapersonal skills. When children are creating and building they become engrossed in their own little world, sometimes oblivious to what is going on around them. It is very important for children to experience fun by themselves so that they do not feel that they always need a companion or a playmate. Alone is okay. Alone is good. Learning the alone-time skill will be very useful throughout their entire lives.

Interpersonal skills are enhanced when playtime promotes communication and teamwork. When children gather to build a Thomas play set in a cooperative manner, it teaches children to work together, share ideas, communicate their thoughts and realize how their input is essential to successful outcomes.

Thomas the Tank Engine play sets are excellent play systems that provide children with most learning and developmental concepts necessary to ensure that they will develop and grow in many ways. With Thomas, there is a world of adventure to dream about, to discover and to learn from.

Author's Bio: 

Lynn Toombs is a work-from-home entrepreneur who dedicates her time creating various websites and raising her 4-year old son, Michael. Lynn enjoyed a successful career in marketing and advertising for over 8 years before taking the opportunity to work for herself. Her current site, was inspired due to the lack of selection of Thomas the Tank Engine toys and merchandise found in retail stores around the Houston, Texas area. Resorting to shopping online, she soon discovered that prices and selections varied greatly among online retailers. Michael had taught her everything she needed to know about Thomas & Friends, so the compare and shop Thomas site was born. “This site was developed to help parents find the best deals on Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise because prices, and selections, vary quite a bit from retailer to retailer. The information here can save parents a lot of money.”