Our classroom is full of movers and shakers. We love to work and move. When building with blocks, we seem to make tracks for our cars and drive them all around. When connecting our snap blocks, we turn them into airplanes and fly them around the room. When working with animals, we make them run across tables and onto the floor. Every type of block I introduce to the children, they always seem to make it a track and move along the track with whatever mode of transportation they can come up with.
When exploring these ideas, my teachers have commented on the children's knowledge of trains. I hear train-specific vocabulary, knowledge of characteristics, and a general passion for trains. I honestly did not know how to introduce this star of a project with the children. I decided to take the lead from them. I wanted to know what the children knew and what they would like to know, so I asked them at group time. I brought a train book with me to help facilitate the discussion, but the children didn't need the book until about halfway through. They had a lot to share.
Here is some of what we knew:
"The whistle is to remind people there is a train on the tracks if they are looking the wrong way like this."
"The train goes into the station and blows the whistle."
"Trains live in the station with the workers."
"The brakes make the engine stop."
"Trains have words on them."
"The turntable is at the station where the trains park."
"Drivers are called conductors."
"Trains need to pump pistons to go faster and faster."
When it came to how the trains worked, there was mention of steam. The book showed us an interesting picture:
"You put black rocks in trains and here are cinders and ashes."
"The train has a funnel on it for steam."
"That's coal. The coal gets really hot. It makes steam."
The next picture in the book showed a picture of the workers putting water into the train. Only one child had an idea of what was happening.
"That water is for the fish."
"The water is for the people in the train to drink."
"No, there's fire in the tank with the coals. When the water goes in the tank, it makes white steam."
After group time and working with the trains, we have a few questions and misconceptions from the children.
" Why does the smoke come out of the train?"
"What does the coal do?"
"The water is for the fish."
"I want to know what the different cars on a train are named."
Hopefully we can address these misconceptions and questions son as we continue our exploration. I know the interest is definitely there!