Saturday, August 8, 2015

Back "Choo" School Time!!! (Train Theme)

Alllllllll aboard for a new school year!

I decided to surprise the kids with a train theme this year - pictures below.  Many of the items shown below (signs, tickets, etc.) can be purchased through my TPT store!  The entire set is only $1.50, but I will be offering it FREE for ONE day next week.  I will be posting the information on my Facebook page so check there if you are interested.  :)

Breakfast set-up in the "Dining Car".  I was very excited to find a battery operated engine that fit with the train set we already had, so I was able to surprise the kids with a train that actually moved around the tracks!  :)  I posted a link to one at the bottom of the post in case other moms out there have been searching for the same thing.

I also printed out "Sleeping Car" signs (not shown) and posted them on their bedroom doors during the night.

The mats are construction paper.  I purchased the caboose cups, train pencil toppers, and engineer caps (yes, they even had PINK) through this website.  The whistles came from the Dollar Store (Tree?).

I opted for an easy breakfast this year.  My kids love cereal because it is not something they get on a regular basis, so I surprised them with cereal that had princesses on the front (Frozen) and a cereal with Star Wars on the front (strangely enough - my kids have not seen Star Wars but still really like it).  

I made a train track (black and silver duct tape) which led to the school room.  I also made a simple cardboard train out of some empty boxes and an oatmeal container (wrapped with black paper).  The kids handed me their tickets, and I punched them with a hole punch so they could board the train (the train was too small for both, so we had to do this one at a time).

 They arrived at "Education Station" right on time for the first day of school!

This is a photo of our morning meeting board which usually seems to change every year depending on what worked last year or new needs this year!  :)

First day snack time was a success!  Found this cute idea here and used it for our snack time.  They enjoyed eating freight!  I even threw in some items we wouldn't normally have (candy, bunny grahams) because it was a special occasion.

After reading "The Little Engine That Could", we completed this activity.  I folded a sentence strip accordion style and glued the pictures of an engine and a caboose onto it (engine at the front and caboose at the back).  I let the kids paint or draw train cars on each fold (my littlest didn't quite get his on the folds but still had fun).

I then had them write (or dictate to me, depending on ability) things THEY can do on small Post-it notes.  These then became "freight" which they could add to their cars.   More "freight" could be added during the day as they came up with more ideas of things they are capable of doing.

Found this great idea here.

Inspired by the many fun things I saw on the website "", I put words on tracks and had the kids make sentences or simply practice reading sight words by setting up the tracks and using a train to guide their reading one word at a time.

For my eldest - I used Latin words she was learning.  The Post-its are "stations" and the Smarties are "freight".  If she could translate the word when she arrived at it, she was allowed to add that station's freight to her car.  If she couldn't translate the word, I would give her the translation but NOT the freight.  She had to go back around the track again a few times until eventually she had successfully translated all the words and collected all the freight (enjoying every last piece of it for a job well done).  

 Another fun activity we found here.  Set up words and crash into them! 

For my littlest who is just beginning to form words, I had him first form the word in front of him so he could see the letters from left to right.  Then we set them up vertically.  

Notice the Latin words set up on the side showing an older kid option (Latin words or harder spelling words, etc.).  The red blocks have Latin endings which make it easier to build a Latin word quickly.
I cannot remember where I saw something similar to this or I would give credit, because it was what inspired our snack freight train.  The kids added their "freight" to each car (celery).  The stations were their mouths so after the freight was picked up, their trains headed to the stations.

My eldest needed to review some math facts, so I wrote them on the train tracks.  Great way to practice each fact on the way to our school room.

We read "Freight Train", and the kids made their own colored trains using small sponges for the cars (inspiration here). I then gave them a bin of "freight" to add to the cars.  Each car carried the letters (freight) which matched its color.

Before we threw out the sponges, we decided to try showing a speeding train  motion together by brushing the sponges along a paper.  This went along with the "Freight Train" book as well.
What child doesn't enjoy playing with vinegar and baking soda?  Inspired by what I saw in this post, I decided we would make some bubbly colorful "smoke" of our own.

Mr. J enjoyed rolling the dice, adding the numbers together, and placing that many puffs of smoke above each train engine.  We found this activity and many more here.

If trains are not your thing, you might be interested in our back-to-school theme from last year (frogs - "Leap Into a New School Year")!  Blog post here and frog theme items for purchase here.