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Music in a Box, Part 4

  • Jun 9, 2010
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

Dianna and I wish to thank the participants of the Maplewood and Ridgedale Library workshops that added so much to our “Music in a Box” segments. This blog posting will focus on a specific book and ideas using the “Music in a Box” format.


When using this format, think about the book as the theme. This will assist in lesson development that will create an integrated learning approach for young children. The story will “come to life’” and also engage the young leaner in literacy-rich experiences.
Very popular interests of young children are trains. Celebrating their universal appeal we will demonstrate how we can augment “trains” into a literacy-rich experience.

Book Title: Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo

Author: Kevin Lewis

Illustrator: Daniel Kirk


ISBN: 078680429-7


Audience: Currently used in MacPhail’s Musical Discoveries curriculum (2-3 year olds).

Materials: Colorful scarves, parachute, train whistle, masking tape, large cut-out of letter “T”, music listening could include train songs such as “Little Red Caboose”, and other train- sounding recordings. Wear a train hat while reading the story or during Musical Storytelling time. Have a “Train Week” at your library.

Literacy Areas Include:

  • Print Motivation: Colorful illustrations with picture of a train engine cover. Colorful toys meaningful to young children are illustrated as story characters.
  • Print Awareness: Large text makes letter come to life for the reader and listener. Key words are highlighted with larger text and exclamation marks.
  • Listening: Using a train whistle to “call” the readers to story time engages and motivates the children and caregivers! Listen to “Little Red Caboose” while dancing with scarves or moving up and down a mask taped “train line” on the floor will facilitate participation in the story! Use the parachute as a “Train” moving it up and down in rhythm to the music, or while sing a train song.
  • Speaking: The sounds and words, “Chugga chugga choo-choo” and also “Whooooo Whooo” are embedded in this story. Practice speaking them first with the children before finding them in the story. Ask the children, “What letter does the word train start with?” and “What does the letter “T” sound like?” Ask the children to make this sound over and over again to make “T” sound like a train in motion.
  • Phonological Awareness: The rhythm and rhyme from the story, plus using the letter “T” sound, and the chant also gives opportunities for a phonological experience.
  • Writing: Tracing the letter “T” in the air, or even the opportunity for students to create their own “train” book using pictures, will facilitate writing experiences.
  • Additional Chants:

“Engine, Engine, Number Nine
Engine, Engine Number Nine
Going Down Chicago Line
If the train runs down the track
Will I get my money back?
Yes? No? Maybe So…."

  • Art Opportunity: Make a Shape Train-using Circles, Rectangles, Squares, and Triangles all going down the track.
  • Community Building: Make a hand train, or use scarves, and as each child/caregiver group is a “train car” they can meander on the masked tape line and “follow the leader” going forward and backward.

All Aboard! Have Fun!!!!

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