Train Science with the Little Engine that Could

This month the Virtual Book Club for Kids is featuring The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper. We built our own self-propelled train and explored what it could carry and how far it would travel. Affiliate links are included in this post. Clicking on the book titles or covers will take you to Amazon.

Train Science with the Little Engine that Could

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

The Little Engine That Could is a classic story that I remember from my childhood. It has a nice message of helping others, trying your best, and never giving up. Kids always love to see the different trains in the story and root for the Little Blue Engine to make it to the top of the mountain chanting, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

Build a Self-Propelled Train

Build a self-propelled train

What You’ll Need:

  • Pull Back Toy Vehicle (affiliate link to the ones we used)
  • Cardstock
  • Construction paper
  • Small cardboard boxes
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Yarn

We started by creating the box cars for the train. We used a tea box for the caboose. I cut an applesauce box in half for the open cars. Aiden and I covered the boxes with construction paper.

tiger car2


For the train engine, I cut and folded a piece of cardstock to look like an engine. It fits over the top of the pull back toy vehicle (affiliate link) like the tiger one above. You could also make your own rubber band powered train. Check out the instructions in our make a vehicle post.

train engine1

I taped yarn to the top and back of the tiger car and strung it through each of the box cars.

Pull back the car and release. It will pull the box cars along with it.

pull back car

Now it’s time to explore. How far will the train travel? Measure the distance with a ruler. How much weight can the train carry? Fill the cars with different things to find out.

Race the train against another pull back car. Which one will win?

train race

See more of our train ideas here.

More Ideas from the Virtual Book Club for Kids


See more activities inspired by The Little Engine That Could:

Counting On and Back with Trains from Rainy Day Mum
Easy to Make Train Math Game from 3 Dinosaurs
Tracing Shapes with Trains from I Can Teach My Child
Train Challenge with The Little Engine That Could from Preschool Powol Packets
I Think I CAN Sight Word Activity from Still Playing School
Train Color Sorting Activity from Mom Inspired Life
The Little Engine that Could ABC Activity from Growing Book by Book
Train Themed Treat for Kids from Toddler Approved
Build A Train Game from Mama Miss

Also stop by the Virtual Book Club for Kids Facebook page to see what others are sharing!

Next month we’ll be featuring The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. See our entire Virtual Book Club for Kids book list here.

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