At the end of every school year, I invite my students and their families to visit the model railroad. I fly the train banner outside the house as a landmark to make it easier for them to locate my house along the street. To say the least, the kids are thrilled to visit their teacher's home with their moms and dads and siblings.
Each student is given the opportunity to run a train around the layout. They learn to bring the train slowly into the station on a slow order and they learn how to blow the horn as a warning of the approaching train and to ring the bell in yard limits as a safety procedure.
I ask each student to bring the train to a stop at specific intervals so that I can instruct them about the different types of rolling stock. The parents take great interest in this as well.
They learn to blow two longs, a short and a long through the road crossings. Moms and dads (and some grandparents as well) are amazed at the level of detail...as many think that when they bring the kids over, they are probably going to see a model railroad on a 4x8 sheet of plywood.
Each child is given the opportunity to board the switcher and perform some rudimentary switching moves at the local industries.
Moms are just as keen as dads and the girls are as thrilled as the boys to run the trains. Each visitor signs the guestbook and I provide a lovely photograph from the layout for each visitor. Here we see two families with the moms. Dads come too, but they aren't as pretty as the moms! (big grin) While each group waits in the crew lounge for their turn in the layout room, I offer many model railroad magazines for them to peruse and there is a railroad DVD on the big television.
Yes, it is as much a thrill for me as it is for my visitors. I strongly encourage anyone with a layout to offer an open house for young people. After all, they are the future of the hobby!