Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Would You? Could You? Take A Trip On A Choo-Choo?

Ann Espersen
Orange County Schools


Students cheer on the main character in [The Little Engine That Could] and practice retelling this classroom favorite using picture prompts. This lesson ignites the positive spirit of persevering determination that creates success.


The student uses strategies to comprehend text (for example, retelling, discussing, asking questions).

The student dictates or writes with pictures or words/letters a narrative about a familiar experience or text.


-A collection of pictures of people, places, and events
-Internet Websites on trains (See Weblinks)
-Train-related books and magazines
-Local railroad/rail history brochures, if available
-Book: Piper, Watty. [The Little Engine That Could]. Grosset and Dunlap, 1978.
-Chart paper
-Felt-tip pen
-Three previously-read picture books with recorded tapes
-Train engineer's hat (optional)
-Train whistle (optional)
-Teacher-created boarding passes
-One or two tape players (with earphones) for use by students


1. Preview and bookmark Internet Websites with train-related information. (See Weblinks)
2. Gather train-related books, magazines, and local railroad/rail history brochures (if available) for students to review.
3. Locate various books with tapes or (teacher-made tapes) to be used in learning center.
4. Locate pictures from books to use as prompts. (See Procedures, step #10)
5. Cut out pictures for sorting.
6. Buy or make an engineer's hat, purchase or borrow a train whistle or locate the sound track on the Internet.
7. Create boarding passes for students.
8. Arrange chairs in train-seat fashion.
9. Place chart/chart stand in discussion corner.
10. Purchase or borrow the book, [The Little Engine That Could], and preview.
11. Choose and prepare a visual chart for recording.
12. Design a written retelling format for reference.
13. Format a worksheet to assess learning center activity.
14. Set up listening activity center for individual practice.


Prior to this lesson, students need to have viewed train-related Internet Websites (See Weblinks), books, and magazines showing forms of transporation, including local railroad/rail history brochures (if available).

1. Greet the students at the door wearing a RR engineer's cap and pass out boarding passes.

2. Blow a train whistle or locate the train whistle sound on the Internet.

3. Direct students to arranged chairs so students can sit in train-car fashion with boarding passes.

4. Ask if any students have seen or traveled by train and have them relate real-life experiences.

5. Guide students to brainstorm trains: different kinds, different ways they are used, etc. Write on the chart student suggestions to create a subject-related vocabulary word list. Use this session to assess prior knowledge of words and concepts that might barricade comprehension. Reference this chart during discussions and where precise language is used for labeling.

6. If it is apparent that the students have little knowledge of trains (from the brainstoming session), revisit Websites, and review books and magazines.

7. Read the book to the students pausing to ask brief, simple questions to check student comprehension.

8. Tell the students that together they will retell this story using their own words but the author's ideas.

9. Display picture prompts and ask volunteers to choose the correct pictures connected with the story.

10. Review the story by rereading the book, directing the students to look at the book's illustrations while listening to the author's message. Engage the students by encouraging students to chime-in during the repeating text.

11. Model an oral retelling using a familiar story or classroom favorite such as [Sheep in a Jeep]. Cue student oral responses by using pictures. Format an outline to facilitate practicing the skill until students become familiar with orally retelling stories.

12. Develop an oral retelling of the story [The Little Engine That Could], letting students practice the formatted outline used in the modeled story.

13. Write the dictated retelling of the story on chart paper, then read the story to students.

14. Give directions for the learning center activity. During learning center time, students 1) listen to a book on tape, 2) choose correct pictures and glue them to a sheet, 3) orally retell the story in a small group using the retelling format and pictures to cue while the teacher observes and gives feedback. (See Assessments)


Formative Assessment:
The students, working cooperatively in learning centers, listen to a book on tape, select pictures relative to the story they just heard, glue the pictures on a sheet of paper, and from that paper, retell the story. The teacher listens to each group retell their story and checks the picture sheet they created to see that the pictures relate to the story.


Songs like “The Locomotion” by Little Eva, “Down by the Station,” and others can be used to incorporate physical movement, rhythm and rhyme into the lesson.

Web Links

Web supplement for Would you? Could you? Take A Trip On A Choo-Choo?

Web supplement for Would you? Could you? Take A Trip On A Choo-Choo?

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