Trains At Home: Elementary Students (K-6)

At the museum, we are always looking for fun ways our visitors can play with trains. Through scouring the internet and talking to parents and teachers, we have collected some really fun activities. We have included some of our favorites below. Some are educational and some are just for fun. Enjoy!
Trains At Home: Elementary Students (K-6)
Build Train Tracks with Pool Noodles
Pool Noddle Train Track ImageThis is a fun, easy activity. We first tried this activity out at our Golden Spike Festival in May 2019. We had a lot of fun!

All you need are pool noodles. You can use as many as you want and cut them to whatever size fits your needs. Simply lay them out to look like a train track.
Learn to Read Maps
Learn how to read maps! There are a lot of resources out there that can help you learn to read a map. One resource is Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms
Design Your own Railway
Have some fun designing your own railway here in Tooele County! Print the .pdf and get creative! 
Tooele County Map (.pdf)

Here are some questions to consider as you are designing: 

-Where will it go?
-How many stops will it make?
-Why did you plan the stops you have decided upon?
-How fast will your train travel?
-What kind of train is it?
-Where will you build the train station?
-How much money would it cost to take the train?
-How many days per week will it run?
-What are the hours of operation of the train?
-What safety guidelines would you have?
-What would you name the train?
-What logo would you give it?
-What colors would you want the train to be?
-Design the image you are thinking of.
-Creating a Passenger Train to Network Through Tooele County
-Using a map of Tooele County, map a route for the train to follow.
-Where will it go?
Operation Lifesaver K-2 Safety Lesson – A Little Birdie Told Me
Open the .pdf to gain access to a lesson that introduces young students to the safety rules around trains. It helps to underscore the importance of knowing what signs mean and how to obey them. It can be used as a Language Arts lesson or a Social Studies lesson, and it fits well within a unit on civic responsibility. The video-based portion of the lesson provides a way to grab young children’s attention while delivering important safety messages.

Operation Lifesaver K-2 Safety Lesson (.pdf)
Operation Lifesaver Grades 3-5 – All Aboard the Choo Choo Train
Open the .pdf to access a lesson that helps young students understand about rail safety, while simultaneously teaching an aspect of the language arts curriculum in poetry. Students learn the poetic term, onomatopoeia, and begin to both appreciate and write poetry using it. Students also get a more in-depth understanding of four different types of trains that fall under the “passenger rail” umbrella — subways, light rail, commuter rail, intercity trains -— as well as the reasons why trains make the sounds they do. They write about trains using onomatopoeia and choosing a point of view from which to write (from an assigned list). It is assumed that students have some familiarity with point of view prior to this lesson.

All Aboard the Choo Choo Train (.pdf)
Learn Train Signals
This activity is super simple and a lot of fun!

  1. Find an object at home you can use to practice the signals, such as a lantern, a bucket, a flashlight, or even glow sticks. 
  2. Practice the signals used by train engineers, conductors, and depot workers listed in the .pdf below. Talk about other types of signals people use such as lights, signs, whistles, horns, etc.
  3. Once you have learned the signals, you can play some games using them. One of our favorites is to play stop and go games with the signals at the museum. Some children get to send signals, others act like engineers and follow the signal.
Tooele Valley Railway Signals (.pdf)
*The signals in the .pdf were the actual signals used on the Tooele Valley Railway. They came from the 1910 rule book.
Make a Paper Train
Train Set ImageIf you don’t have a train set at home, no worries! You can make one!

What can you learn?
Colors, counting, and train cars

How to build it:

1. Print the templates for the cars you want to build.

Counting Train Locomotive (.pdf)
Counting Train Car (.pdf)
Counting Train Caboose (.pdf)
2. Color the cars. Paper Train Image
3. Cut out the train car along the exterior solid line.
4. Cut along the dotted line.
5. Fold along the solid vertical lines. Paper Train Image
6. Use tape or glue to assemble the cars. Paper Train Image
7. Attach the cars together using glue dots or string. Paper Train Image

How does it work?
  • Count the number of cars you add to your train
  • Look around your house or yard and find some freight
    • Load and unload the freight counting out each piece each time
  • Practice counting to 100
  • Practice counting in a different languages
  • You can also teach concepts like half by splitting freight from one car into two cars
  • Practice your even and odd numbers by counting in twos or threes
Coloring Pages
Who doesn't love to color? Below are some fun train coloring pages and books. All you have to do is print them off and enjoy!