Introducing Kids to MR

Hi gang,

My 9-year old grandnephew got an HO train set for Christmas and I've been volunteered to help him out. My first impulse was to staple a grass mat to a

4x8 plywood sheet and let him watch the train run in an oval, but that doesn't seem quite right since he'd probably get bored before long.

In the past, he's shown interest in things (piano, soccer) but quickly lost interest and moved to something else, so I'm a little reluctant to invest too much time/money. Still, I want to give him a chance. Anyone got any pointers on helping a child develop and sustain an interest in MR?



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If you can, buy him an ice cream and take him out to a nearby trainyard.

Perhaps this sounds a bit naive and outdated, but I know seeing the real thing in the local yards, at the station, or even crossing the local river bridge was a fairly big deal for me at that age. My folks were nice enough to indulge me a bit.

The interest transferred to having model trains at home from the time I was

  1. Stew

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Still, I want to give him a chance. Anyone got any pointers

First up - 9 years old? Don't do it for him. Kids at that age are adventurous and eager to try new things. Give him some bits and pieces, then let him know you are there IF HE NEEDS YOU! Doesn't matter what or how he does things, give fair praise. If he paints his mountain (real ones, not

4-8-2's) pink, give him praise. But show him a photo of a distant mountains and ask how he would get it that colour. And if he does ask for help, show you are enjoying it.

Developing the child will develop the MR.

(here endeth Philosophy 101... :-))

Steve Newcastle Oz

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Steve Magee

Sounds like a pretty normal kid...

Take him on some real train trips. Even short ones, but preferably at least one long distance. I don't think there's any real point (even as an adult) in modeling something you have no personal interest in. If they don't relate to your own life experience in some way, why sit there watching a few pieces of electrified plastic running round and round in a circle?

When I was a kid we traveled almost exclusively by train (and I still do it when I have the time). I loved the experience; I think most kids (at least boys) do, as trains have pretty much everything kids like (big and heavy machinery, speed, junk food). It got so I'd talk about it all the time. My parents finally gave in and bought me a Bachmann Amtrak Amfleet train set (similar to the Patriot set they have out now), and then my grandparents bought me a set of Athearn Amtrak "Heritage" equipment. Since then I've grown in and out of the hobby periodically but I never fully left it, because trains have just always been part of my life and I like to remind myself of them even when I'm not traveling.

I think a lot of people model freight for the same reasons; they had freight lines running through their town, or whatever, and would sit and watch the trains go by when they were kids (I did this too whenever I'd go visit my family in Wisconsin; they had a Soo Line train that'd go through every day, and we'd always run and watch every time we heard the whistle blow).

Whatever HO train he got, show him a real train (in real life, not on video) that looks similar and I guarantee he'll be interested in his set. Then take him on some trips and get train life into his blood. Once he's got it, I doubt he'll ever really let go.

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Jeff Williams

Have a look at my site, started it when my grandson was a year old... you might find something helpful.

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MrZaremba wrote:

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Great website, I've just bookmarked it. Thanks to all for their suggestions.


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Have him help you plan the railroad and build it with him. Let him make the choices of rolling stock, buildings and other scenery. (If you are not willing to live with a decision he might make, don't give him the choice.) {Instead of "What car do you want?, give him a choice between two or more appropriate cars, either of which you will accept.

Teach him as you build it.

Explain why you do thing the way you do.

Don't get exasperated by any question he asks.

Don't reject outright some of the things he might want to try.

Encourage him to experiement with different track arrangements. To this end, the Atlas Ready track and the Bachmann Easy track would be the best way to go. THey can be taken apart and reassembled with out nails.

When my son was 8, he wanted N scale. We bought him starter components, I taught him how to solder wires and inuslate them (to extend switch motor leads). He then designed and built his own railroad with very little supervision from me. I was there when the soldering iron was on. He mis-wired a switch motor but figured out what he had done wrong and fixed it, Then he told me about it.

Give him lots of praise for the things he has accomplished, but do not criticize him for the misstakes he makes. Just explain what is wrong and how it should or can be corrected and let him do it.

MrZaremba wrote:

-- Please note; return email address has changed. It is now Emails to Earthlink will be ignored.

The Gratiot Valley Railroad Club bi-annual train show and sale March 7, 2004, at the Macomb Community College Sports and Expo Center. Macomb County Michigan. Please visit our Web Site at:

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Frank A. Rosenbaum

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