January 2015 Guide
Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The Little Engine That Could

by Watty Piper

illustrated by George and Doris Hauman

Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Can The Little Engine That Could make it to the top of the mountain? Rediscover this classic from 1930, with a message that is still relevant today. 

This story has been a part of our culture for over 80 years and has inspired many generations with its obvious theme of self-confidence. Whether we are encouraging kids to be better readers, writers, athletes, or lego builders, helping them to develop self confidence through encouragement and praise of their efforts is one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent or teacher. So enjoy this week's story and activities with the little engine and a classic that has inspired for over 80 years. 

In this Issue


“Box Cars” or Train Sculptures

Box Train Sculptures - The Little Engine That Could - Off the Shelf

Take block building to a whole new level by creating a train wiht boxes and containers. Your young reader is truly in charge of this activity- they can choose the size, form, and even the amount of time devoted to construction. SImply help them gather the materials, then stand back and see what they create. 

Your young reader may choose to paint or color their train, but a child's imagination is so much more powerful than an adults that they will often not need to embellish the basic for to create a sculpture of their liking. Freedom of exploration is such an intergal part of creativity; although you are asking them to make a train, the finished product will be truly their own.

Box Train Sculptures - The Little Engine That Could - Off the Shelf

Train Sculpture


  • Cardboard boxes of various sizes
  • Recyclables of various shapes and sizes, we used an oatmeal container for the smokestack
  • Masking tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Colored paper
  • Crayons, markers, or paint, optional
  1. Set out the supplies and encourage your young reader to create a train! 


Train Food Sculpture

Train Food Sculptures - The Little Engine That Could - Off the Shelf

Although not a typical recipe, this food activity lends itself so well to the book that we decided to present it this week. Plus it is basically a complete meal once the pieces are assembled. Then practice fine motor skills by building pretzel stick railroad tracks!

Train Food Sculpture


  • Bread slices
  • Cheese slices
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Banana
  • Pretzel sticks
  1. Cut squares and rectangles from bread and engine and train car shapes. 
  2. Halve tomatoes to form wheels.
  3. Slice banana and arrange to form smoke puffs. 
  4. Load the train car with piece of cheese. 
  5. Bonus: Arrange pretzel sticks to make train tracks. Choo choo!

Train Food Sculptures - The Little Engine That Could - Off the Shelf

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