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Music in a Box: Train!

  • Dec 6, 2010
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

Last week’s blog highlighted ideas that you could add into a “Music in a Box” lesson with literature based on a transportation theme. This week- a sample lesson is included.

Young children love trains. Add a great story with musical elements, and you will have a highly interactive Musical Storytelling time.

Book Title: Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo

Appropriate Audience: Family Story time

Author/Illustrator: Kevin Lewis, Daniel Kirk

Literacy Goals:

  • Phonological Awareness: The rhythm and rhyme of this story is very appealing. Many opportunities for vocal play and keeping steady beat patterns can be found.
  • Print Motivation: Colorful illustrations
  • Vocabulary: Many train sounds, prepositions (under/over)
  • Print Awareness: Repetition of “Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo” throughout the story
  • Letter Knowledge: “Ch” sound and “W” sound
  • Narrative: The journey that the train takes

Activities/Extensions with Music:

  • Encourage vocal play with the sounds “Choo-Choo” and “Whooo-Whooo”!
  • Chant with rhythm sticks or parachute to “Engine, Engine Number Nine” going fast and slow.
  • Rub rhythm sticks or hands together to make a “Choo-Choo” sound.
  • Make a scarf train and sing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” while musically moving with the scarf train throughout designated areas in the library.
  • Scarf dance to a favorite train listening selection.


  • Parachute
  • Colored Scarves
  • Rhythm Sticks or hands to make sounds
  • Train Whistle

Parent Education Tips:

  • Encourage vocal play at home. Pretend “singing” like a train, or making other transportation sounds like a car horn, car engine, train whistle, wheel rotation sounds.
  • Find the rhythm of a story and read this story with a beat. Encourage playing along with the rhythm of the story by clapping to the rhythm, or patting on a smooth surface or drum-like material.

©MacPhail Center for Music, 2010


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