Monday, June 2, 2014

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Preschool Math With Trains & Chuggington StackTrack Koko Safari Adventure & Explorer Koko DVD Review

We had the opportunity to review the Chuggington StackTrack Koko Safari Adventure Playset and the new Explorer Koko DVD, and were thrilled with the free play fun they inspired and the fabulous math tools the train set became!

Preschoolers absolutely learn best when they are playing, so today I am sharing 7 ways you can use your train playset to teach math concepts!  And first I'm sharing a review of the Koko Safari Adventure Playset and the new Explorer Koko DVD!

Our Koko Safari Adventure Playset arrived in the mail, and our kids were so excited by the picture on the box that we had to assemble it immediately...on the floor!  I helped them set up the track in this format first, but they have since re-assembled it in at least three different layouts!  The track pieces are sturdy and yet easy for small hands to connect, disconnect, and re-connect.  The many options for assembly are inspiring, and all our kiddos have played with it every day since it arrived.

The set is big enough for more than one child to use at the same time, and the younger kids particularly enjoy moving the flag and "door" pieces around.  

Moving the swinging monkey is also a highlight, and it has two options:  you can move it with a button or your fingers!

I especially love the stacking nature of the tracks.  Creating "stacked" tracks adds a new dimension to play that has engaged the kids even more.  It is easy to assemble the hills,  and when they are set up they encourage several of the math activities below!

I can recommend the Koko Safari Adventure with absolutely no reservation.  It is great fun on a train table, but also sets up (and transports) easily to a table or floor.  AND, the stacking train set comes with the Koko engine, an attaching car full of bananas, the gate, the monkey in the tree house, and a couple other little flag accessories.  You can buy it in Toys R Us stores or online.

The Explorer Koko DVD is just as exciting!  
(affiliate links below)

My daughter saw the cover, grabbed it, and announced, "Koko?!  Yes!!  You know she is the only girl train!!"  Actually, there are a few other "girl trains," but Koko is one of the main characters, built for speed, and has a delightful personality.  She loves exploring, going fast, racing, and working with her other train friends.  In this new DVD, she has six adventures, totally just over an hour of Chuggington DVD fun.  In each episode she learns new lessons, which can easily be expanded into character lessons for young children.  Each episode is also the perfect amount of time for preschoolers with short attention spans, and contains engaging stories that the children enjoy re-telling.  Re-telling stories is a fabulous pre-reading activity too! 

You can order the Explorer Koko DVD online through

Use your Koko Safari Adventure to teach preschool math!!

Critical preschool math skills involve counting numbers, number recognition, patterns, colors, and shapes.  You can learn these with worksheets, but it is so much more effective to teach them while playing with your child!  You can invite your child to play with you and your train set, or you can wait until your child asks you, and then initiate any of these games.  It is also important to let your preschooler direct the play too! 

7 Games/Activities That Teach Preschool Math

#1.  Count Down to Blast Off!  Koko is all about speed, and the stack tracks that come in the Koko Safari Adventure make it soooo easy to play this simple game.  First, choose where Koko is blasting off it the moon?  another train station?  somewhere else?  Then, decide how fast she needs to go to get there.  Younger preschoolers may use 3 or 5 while older preschoolers may use 15 or 20.  Count to your number as you climb the hill.  Then, when you reach your speed, give Koko a little push and watch her "blast off!"  Whew!  That picture is a little blurry because the hands and train were really moving!!

#2.  Color Matching!  Place several colored papers around the track to  represent parking garages.  Make sure you include a green one for Koko and any other colors that match other trains you have.  During your game, drive the trains "home" to their matching garage and use talk about the colors frequently.  Remember your goal is to teach the colors as you play, not make your child feel like he's sitting through a lesson!  You can also use this method for shapes--cut out one large circle to represent the garage, and cut out several small circles (to use as cargo) that Koko carries to the correct garage.

#3.  Number Recognition!  Write the numbers that your children are working on on 1" square pieces of paper.  Tape those papers to random tracks.  Put one on Koko.  As you play, say things like "My train is driving over track #12."  You can also use this method for shape recognition--simply "label" different tracks with shapes you're working on and talk about them as you drive over them.

#4.  Shape Recognition!  Use play dough or paper to make small (1/2" sized) shapes that you're working on.  Let Koko use these shapes as cargo.  "Take a load of triangles up the hill."  To make it even more exciting, you can tape a magnet on to Koko's cargo car and put a paperclip on each little shape.  The paper clips will stick to the magnet as Koko drives!

#5.  Piece Sorting!  Let's create a new track for Koko!  As you take apart the pieces, encourage your child to sort them by shape.  Place identical pieces in columns, rows, or piles.  Look closely--some of the curvy hill pieces look similar, but are not quite the same!

#6.  Piece Counting!  Once your pieces are all sorted, count them!  How many do you of each type?  How many do you have all together?

#7.  Pattern Challenge!  Challenge Koko (and your child driver) to make patterns using the shape pieces from #4.  Koko can deliver them to make simple abab patterns or, for older preschoolers, more complex patterns.  Take turns making patterns with your kiddo!

Do you use your trains for math time?  I'd love to see pictures!  Feel free to share them here or on our PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page!

Disclaimer:  I received a Chuggington StackTrack Koko Safari Adventure Playset and Explorer Koko DVD in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are honest and 100% mine!  I only share products that I believe Preschool Powol Packets fans will love!!

I may share at any of these parties!