Little buildings. Big fun!
Our grandchildren spent countless hours playing with Brio(TM) and Thomas & Friends(TM) wooden trains. And we, like countless other parents and grandparents, bought several of the railroad accessory structures that these companies make. They are sturdy, long-lasting, and offer good play value but they are also expensive. Their cost keeps most of us from purchasing more than just a few.
While researching the history of toymaking, we noticed that paper cutouts have long been a popular and inexpensive way to build toys. So, we thought, why not design some little buildings children could use with their wooden trains? And, since today's ink-jet printers can produce high-quality color prints on sturdy paper, why not create downloadable files so people can print and build their own?
So we created the Meddybemps Miniature Village. Our collection features types of buildings and businesses that children will recognize and play with. Details on each structure give parents, siblings and teachers opportunities to casually engage young children in discussions of life in their town. Simple environmental print will help with pre-reading skills. Some buildings will include nursery rhymes. Others will appear in stories on this website.
Each building is presented as a pdf file and will print out on one (or sometimes more) 8.5 by 11 inch sheets of paper. Premium heavy weight (68 lb) glossy photo paper is best, but 24 lb plain paper will do and is good for making a practice building or two.
Simply follow outlines to cut the building out, then fold flaps and corners to see how it fits together. Use household tape or paste to hold it together. After a couple of practice buildings, you'll find an assembly method that works best for you. We've prepared a pdf Construction Guide to show you how we assemble them. Newer buildings have bigger bottom flaps and added tabs elsewhere, making them easier to assemble without tape or glue.
Some of these buildings are related to games and learning activities elsewhere on Meddybemps.com. For example, you can...
Put toppings on pizzas at Pepper's Only Pizza.
Decorate cakes and arrange display windows at Bobby's Busy Bakery.
Arrange flowers at Merry Tulip's flower shop.
Help customers pick pets in the Pet Shop.
Pick out a tree at a Christmas tree farm and decorate it.
Learn about German Christmas Markets.
Play a color matching game at the Jolly Penguin ice cream stand.
Best of all, you can have fun without spending lots of money.
Take a look at the handcrafted wooden trains made in America by Whittle Shortline Railroad. Many of their engines and cars use the same graphics your child sees on real railroads. Also, they use top-quality materials and methods for product safety and integrity.
A word of caution: We recommend that you keep ink jet and laser prints out of the hands of infants and very small children. There are no warnings on the ink cartridges we use, but inks and toners are made from a variety of chemicals that may not be good for children to get into their mouths.
© 2012 Jerry Jindrich.
All rights reserved.
Here are 42 free structures for you to print and build plus a few little extras. Click on a building to open its pdf file. Be patient. Some files take a while to download.
New for 2014: Every community needs Community Helpers. Here are six to help your miniature village grow and prosper. Enjoy!
New for 2013: Everyone loves old-fashioned roadside attractions. Smiley's Crocodile Farm is one of the best. Our unusual crocodiles like fruits and vegetables. Make a game out of matching crocs with their favorite foods (hint: look at their teeth) or just help the crocodile wrangler keep these playful critters from wandering away.
Back to Fun with Trains.