Did you know that when children play with trains, they can learn how to solve problems and develop key social skills? Get ready to embark on an exciting journey of discovery with the Thomas & Friends brand as we reveal the findings of a comprehensive study commissioned by Mattel that shines a spotlight on the potential developmental benefits of train play for children.

The research was led by recognised play expert, Dr. Salim Hashmi from King's College London. His findings feature in a comprehensive white paper on the positive impact that playing with toy trains – like those offered by our #1 Blue Engine – can have on your child's development. In particular, it has been found to help enhance:

Social Skills

Playing with toy trains encourages collaborative play that can help foster essential social skills such as communication, negotiation and turn-taking. Through joint-play experiences, children can practice how to work together towards common goals, mirroring real-life social dynamics.


Playing with toy trains can help cultivate collaborative and cooperative skills as children work together to decide how to play and build the tracks. Through imaginative play with others they can learn to communicate effectively, share responsibilities and negotiate ideas. This will help set the stage for harmonious interactions and successful teamwork in the future.

Problem Solving

Playing with toy trains can encourage pretend play, which has been found to improve children’s executive function. This includes skills like planning, self-control, memory and attention, which are all key to solving problems. Pretend play with trains can enhance these skills in children and boost their capacity for critical thinking.

Why Is It Important?

Encouraging children's social and cognitive development via joint play experiences nurtures resourcefulness, creativity, and resilience. It's a dynamic journey where they conquer obstacles, experiment with different approaches, and can unlock the power of effective communication and negotiation. Through train play, your child has the chance to blossom into a confident, imaginative, and adaptable individual.

About The Researcher:

Dr. Hashmi joined King’s College London in January 2019 after completing a PhD in Psychology at Cardiff University. His research background is primarily in developmental psychology, particularly in relation to play, imagination and children’s interactions with technology. He also has experience in studying children’s social cognition, executive function and inclusive curriculum in higher education.

Fuelled by a passion for understanding the power of play, Dr Hashmi explored the advantages of playing with toy trains. He conducted an extensive review of all relevant scientific research published on the subject, which included over 1,600 papers covering various aspects of train play and its potential significance in childhood development. After careful analysis, he identified several key benefits children can derive from this type of play.