Saturday, December 31, 2011

Train Inquiry - Our Completed Train

Happy New Year! I enjoyed my time off and am getting ready to "get ready" to return on January 3rd.  We had a great time finishing our train inquiry project.  I am combining all of our pictures from the week before our winter break.  There are many pictures that show how I incorporated math during our train inquiry project at the end of the Polar Express train pictures so keep looking. The first are pictures of our collaborative work that we did to build the train.  We used our lists from the earlier post to help design our train and make the gauges, levers, and buttons.  

Student generated rules for the train.  I guess they hear their teacher say this all the time during circle time:)
Preparing the background scenery with white paint mixed with shaving cream to give it a "puffy-snowy" look.  Don't you just love children's descriptions.  She was right.  It did look like puffy snow when we were finished.
Walking into our room for the magical moment.  Classroom lights out and train lights on.

Side view with the lights on the student-created train wheels.

The students made snowflakes to walk on when going to the train.
Rules, Signs, and Important Information
Note:  They loved the craft sticks that were out for another project.
They ended up making poles for the signs.

The students used non-standard measurement to build the train tracks.
Student created boards for the front of the train.  Looks like we
needed lots of clocks and gauges  and levers to pull.  
Love, love, love the written directions for operating a train.
I also love the ''I love Mrs. Griffin" button too.
I think that was a happy first grader enjoying our project.
A View From the Front
We showed the actual book of the Polar Express instead of the movie.
Of course, we had hot chocolate along with songs from the movie sound track.  
Side view of our trains with wheels and lights.
Student drawings of what you would see when looking out of the train.
More student pictures to add to our train.
A View From the Back
The students painted the night sky and cut out trees, stars, and other objects
for our background scenery.  No patterns required just a child's imagination.

It was a big train for 2 classrooms!
Side View
The children loved that their train and box cars went around the room.
They thought it looked like there was a train in the mountains above them.
There are signs everywhere.  Lots of authentic writing opportunities.
Vocabulary and Math Integrated

You have to have rules:)

A close-up view of the buttons and gears.

Front View of Our Train and Train Tracks
Thanks Mr. Petersen!  The lights were a magical touch!

Take a look at the wonderful math that took place during our train inquiry project.  We focused on nonstandard measurement, shapes, addition & subtraction, and spatial awareness.  We used our classroom tables to build a train math museum.  


Give them the materials, and they will build.
pattern blocks, craft sticks, post-it-notes, and creativity
Future Engineer
Give your students post-it-notes to label their creations.
Our Everyday Math curriculum was measurement, so these activities worked in nicely.
We are learning to use standard units to measure.
Making bead trains requires a lot of fine motor work too.
Our bead trains were supposed to be 10 inches long.
estimation and measurement
All I can say is WOW!  Look at this student's attempt at symmetry!
The girls decided to go 3D in building their trains.  I see some future engineers here too.
The boys were very impressed as was I!
Fine motor, balance, building, spatial awareness, and shapes all weaved in together.
Notice that this student was trying to make the top of the train at different heights.
Young children have amazing patience when engaged in learning.
Why YES!! We were discussing "The 2 Vowels Together Rule."
Spelling with a Purpose
Finished products of friends working side by side but individually too.
Creative Use of Materials
Says, "All Aboard!"
Inventive spelling at its finest:)
This child spent over 30 minutes making this creation. I had a copy of a pattern block train out, but there was a problem.  We didn't have all of the required shapes.  This child had to figure out which shapes you can put together to make other shapes.  I would say she was quite successful. 
These were challenging pieces to put together to build a train. It actually made my head hurt.
So what did I do . . . walked away and said, "Use your imagination."
I think he did!  
Love the directions to show where the driver side is.
This year's class was really interested in the different types of box cars and what they carried.
Here is the table museum of their snap cube trains.
Math, math, everywhere!
Flat cars were fun to build.
More Flat Cars
Hopper Car
Hopper Car - A View Inside
Hopper Car with Train Wheels so "It can stand up like a real train."
Gondola Box Car
I learn so much when our class does inquiry projects.
So what's next?  Nonfiction books will be coming soon.  We ran out of time to have the finished project.  So check back again soon.  Do you need to wait for the Polar Express or Christmas to have a train inquiry project?  NO!  How many of you do a unit on "Transportation" or "Community Helpers?"  Turn your pretend center into a train or use another area in your classroom.  We learned so much new vocabulary, incorporated our reading and writing skills (more to come), and integrated math, science, and social studies.  

Here are more posts on the Polar Express and Trains:

Polar Express KWHL Chart Trains

Polar Express Researching Trains

Polar Express Drawing Trains

Polar Express Drawing Modern Trains

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Modern Trains

We began our Monday by reviewing what we hard learned about trains last week.  There was great interest in drawing more trains, so we continued our art work by drawing a modern train.  We read more nonfiction books about trains and discussed how the steam engine train was different than a modern train.  Here are some samples of their work.


Building Our Learning Wall
How To Draw a Modern Train Instructions


Have you ever listened to the hum of excitement as the children work at their tables? Teachers can learn so much about which direction to take if we are great "Kid Watchers" and listen to their conversations.  I planned to do a contrast and compare activity when we finished our drawings this morning, but they began to discuss what goes in the "box cars."  


These are what I call "great teachable moments."  Yes, I still plan to do a compare/contrast activity between steam engines and modern trains, but that can wait until tomorrow.  I brought the children back to the floor for group time and modeled how readers find out new information or answers to their questions by reading nonfiction books.  I had several nonfiction books that I had checked out from the library.  I modeled how to preview a book by looking at the pictures.  We chose a book with many pictures of the different "cargo"  that trains carry.  This book happened to have a Table of Contents (funny joke and some confusion that there wasn't a table involved), vocabulary terms, and a picture glossary.  BINGO!  We had our next lesson.  They were fascinated with the different parts of the book and the picture glossary.  We started our brainstorming list of the vocabulary my students felt was important to know about trains.  Here is an important strategy for young learners. Break your brainstorming sessions into small segments.  Know your students and their attention spans.  If you write 4-6 words on your list at a time, you keep their interest.  More to come on that strategy tomorrow along with a picture of our Brainstorming List.  For now, enjoy their "cargo" trains or box cars.  I think they are partial to the word "cargo" now.


The children wanted to put all of our "cargo" together like a real train.


Check back in tomorrow.  We will continue our brainstorming list and start planning our class nonfiction collaborative book about trains.  Wondering how I am fitting it all in?  The children are finding "word work" and "phonics" everywhere within our project on trains.  More samples to follow.

Here are more posts about the Polar Express and Trains:

Polar Express KWHL Chart Trains

Polar Express Researching Trains

Polar Express Drawing Trains

Polar Express Train Completed Project