Repurposing the Train Table

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A few weeks ago, I suggested that we pass our train table along to a younger cousin. The boys freaked.  They started playing with trains with abandon. Suddenly, Thomas was no longer taboo. They built tracks down the hallway and all over the house. But the train table remained largely untouched. It was in a sad state, since I glued the tracks down in an effort to curb the destructive train crashing and track throwing that often happened within .5 seconds of "Let's play trains!" (Gorilla Glue is no match for a determined three year old.) The boys ripped up tracks, and background paper, with gusto. For months, they basically abandoned the table and built tracks in other places. 
A favorite picture, from last year.
Meanwhile, Legos moved in, and I made the unpopular suggestion. Finally, a light bulb went on: make the train table a Lego table. I began by testing the idea for a few weeks. I moved the train table into our "play room" and flipped the boards over so that the boys would have a clean surface for Lego building. 
The tracks and trains now live in one of the drawers under the table, still available for play. It is working well for us, so I decided to paint the boards in order to make it look a bit nicer. I took the boards outside, and put a drop cloth down to protect the deck. 
The ripped up front of the boards. Thanks for nothing, Gorilla Glue.
The back of the boards.
I used white paint because I had it. After two coats, they looked pretty good.
Now, they are back on the train table, and everyone is happy. The train table doesn't feel like wasted space, and if I can ever sneak it out of the house for our younger cousin (what's left of) the landscape scene is still there, available for train play.
Do you have a train table? What do you do with it when the trains lose steam? (pun intended)

Linking with:
The William Morris Project @ Pancakes and French Fries
Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom

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6 Responses to “Repurposing the Train Table”

  1. Rita@thissortaoldlifeSeptember 13, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    We built a train/lego table for my kids when they were young. We had a board that fit under the shelf with those flat sheets of lego board (I don't know what you really call it, obviously!) attached to them. When they wanted to play legos, we could put those on top of the train table without disturbing the tracks. For the train surface, I just painted my own scene right onto the wood--no paper to get ripped up. It wasn't as pretty as your paper, but it worked. Lego creations could go on it, too. And where is it now? In their dad's attic, waiting for grandkids to play with it. I gave most of their toys/clothes away, but this is one of the few special things we kept for our kids' kids to (hopefully) play with some day.

  2. Kelly@The Reading NestSeptember 13, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Great idea, and bonus points for painting the other side of the boards. My kids were a little sad when we sold ours at a garage sale, but there weren't any long-term regrets!

  3. Smart idea. We don't have anything quite like that, but I really like the way you managed to repurpose it. Seems like you'll be getting lots more use out of it this way -- until you manage to get it out of the house. ;)

  4. Many friends have told me that we need to get those flat sheets of lego board (I don't know what you call them either, but they are green right?) but I haven't done that yet. Maybe for an upcoming birthday . . . I think the boys would like that. Maybe this train/lego table will last for grandkids - that would be pretty amazing.

  5. Kelly - I think mine would initially protest, but would get over it pretty quickly if we sold ours, too. But now that I've integrated the legos, they definitely want to hang onto it for longer.

  6. Exactly! The goal is to keep it useful. Thanks, Tiffany :)