Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fast trains have lights, they move and move! Following the childrens interest in trains, in a Reggio-inspired way

Every year I have a number of children devoted to trains. This post documents a journey we took two years ago. Of course, I did not do this alone. We had weekly team meetings with other teachers and assistants, and the guidance of our studio coordinator.

Fast trains have lights, they move and move!

The children love playing with trains. It was such a popular activity one year that I decided to rearrange the room and devote an entire area to the trains.

The project started off slowly. First we read books about trains and learned about the different parts of freight trains:

We drew pictures of our trains as a whole and pictures of individual cars with Sharpe markers:

The children told me about trains as they drew:

J: It's a flying train. It goes into outer space in a rocket!

Other's words:

I:  I want to draw the caboose. [Points to the engine] This one is gonna be a hard one. I'm gonna hafta do a tough one...I did it! They are all connected
T.L.: I drew a train stop where everyone gets on the train. I'm blowing the whistle (woo woo wooowoooo)! Everyone all aboard!

We formed trains with our bodies, and negotiated who went were.

J: I'm going to be the engine
D: I want to be the back.
B: The freight car
E: I want to be the coal car
A: Hopper car
B.R: The blue one.
H.L. Tracks and tracks and tracks!

Then we decided where our train would go:
J: the office, by Ms. Maria, the studio, Ms. Karol's class and then back to our room.

Next I set a photo, rulers, thin strips of paper and charcoal on the table and invited the children to draw train tracks.

We then used wire and wire cutters to make three dimensional tracks. Alas, I don't have a photo of that, but here are some words documenting the challenge:

T.L: I give up
I: You can't give up, you have to keep trying!
A: Practice makes perfect!

Finally, two children created a collaborative train drawing:

I hope their interest in trains never ends!


  1. I'm so glad we have the BEST preschool teacher ever!!! Looking forward to the fall again :) Trains is Kaiden's middle name!

  2. I've had a train fanatic for the past 3 years. It got so we almost couldn't have any train items in the classroom at all because he would tend to hoard them. At our end of school picnic we were on a beach near a train track. I snapped a photo of the train going by and it was only later that I spotted not just Finn, but his mom, dad and sister as well, staring at the train in awe -- no I know where he got it!

  3. This documentation is really wonderful - you captured so many important moments and really extended the children's experiences while letting them take the lead. I'm glad I found your blog!


  4. Erin, you seem to be an amazing teacher for these kids! I just had to make a comment about these train drawings. They are amazing! You have some great artists in your class.

    Have a great weekend.

  5. Are you teaching through the summer there?

    You know my boys are train fanatics!!! AJ insists on being homeschooled now because he doesn't want to go to first grade :(
    But you will see Mateo soon!

  6. Nope, Im here setting up tho. This post is actually from AJ's class. In fact, I believe the title of it is a direct AJ quote!

    Poor AJ. I wish he could come back!

  7. Very nice documentation of your children's train learning journey. Keep it up!!!

    I'd like to invite you as well to my personal teaching/learning blog..

    Thanks! Cheers!!


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