Unlike a lot of children, my kids don’t get that excited by trains probably because our back garden backs onto a busy railway line and they have grown up with passenger and freight trains going past hourly. But this month’s Virtual Book Club for Kids book is one of my favourites from my own childhood and it’s fantastic to introduce my kids to it. We found a copy at our local library of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper and used to it come up with a math activity using our train set.

Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

One of the targets this year for my youngest (in Kinder) in math is to work on addition and subtraction, or first step in that process is to count on and back so using our trains we can use them to practice counting on – as it turned out we also added in some writing practice and 1 to 1 correspondence counting as well as counting on and back.

Make your own train and use it for this fun Train Carriage Counting Game – includes a FREE train printable.

Learning objectives

  • To count on and back from a set number
  • To write and read numerals
  • To count 1 to 1

Materials

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The Little Engine that Could by Watty Pipper

Set of Wooden Trains

Wooden Train Track

Paper

Marker

Counting On and Back with Trains

Set up the track in a straight line and line up your train and carriages onto the track. I used 10 as I realised inadvertently I would be introducing her to number bonds to 10 as well as we counted back from 10 as well as forward from a number to 10.

Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

We started with a random number 7 – and I wrote the number on a piece of paper placing it in front of what would be the 7th train in the set.

Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

We then worked counting on and back from that number – counting back she got fairly quickly as we went to the back of the train – counting on from the number I had to change to counting forward when I first said the phrase and then substituted and used alternately counting on so that she could understand the idea of going towards the front of the train with the carriages.

Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

As we counted on or back and got the number she decided to write.

Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

Some numbers like 4 she is confident and can write really well others like 5 and 2 she struggles to write adding in extra parts so I write the numbers above helping her to see how they are formed.

Looking for a train activity to work on learning to read – try our Beginning Sounds Train Activity for toddlers and preschoolers.

Virtual Book Club for Kids – The Little Engine that Could

The team behind the Virtual Book Club for Kids has put together some fantastic activities to bring the book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper focusing on Math, Literacy, Science, Arts and food. All the posts are listed below.

Train Themed Treat for Kids from Toddler Approved

Easy to Make Train Math Game from 3 Dinosaurs

The Little Engine that Could ABC Activity from Growing Book by Book

Train Science with The Little Engine That Could from Inspiration Laboratories

Tracing Shapes with Trains from I Can Teach My Child

Train Color Sorting Activity from Mom Inspired Life

I Think I Can Sight Word Activity from Still Playing Schools

Train Challenge with The Little Engine that Could from Preschool Powol Packets

Build a Train Game from Mama Miss

Train Shapes Activity from The Pleasantest Thing

STEAM: The Little Engine that Could from Study at Home Mama

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Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

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Inspired by the classic children's storybook The Little Engine that Could an early years hands-on mathematics activity to teach counting on and back

Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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