(October 3-7) Choo Choo: The Runaway Engine by Virginia Burton is not a Five in a Row selection, but I’ve wanted to do a train unit with the boys for a while, and thought this book would be a good one to base it on. After so much planning, prep and activities for 10 straight school days with our Apple Pie row, I kept this unit very simple. In fact, we only ‘rowed’ this book for 3 days.
Social Studies: City vs. Small Town Life
After reading the book we picked out pictures throughout and compared/contrasted them—city life vs. small town life. I asked Joe which kind of life he thought suited our family/where we lived best. He said without any hesitation city life. I pointed out how lucky we were to be so near stores, libraries, our church and so forth, and how many people in the book were so far away from these things that it may take an entire day to travel to and from town. We also talked about the fact that when this book was written there were no cars, mail system and so forth—that the people depended on Choo Choo for many things.
Math: Counting by 5’s, Telling Time
I’d meant to complete a few ‘All About Me’ pages with both boys our first week of school and forgot. Since this was such a short unit I included our All About Me pages during this week.
I marked off Jack’s height on a large sheet of white paper and he measured himself using legos and crayons. I forgot to write down immediately after how many crayons he used and then couldn’t remember later :(. He did a great job with this activity! It took him a while to do it and we counted them together—something he isn’t too keen on (help). I was proud of him! He also traced his name all on his own for the first time and did so happily!! Oh, I was super proud of him! He has shown no interest yet in tracing real letters, or any letter activities at all. I was excited :-).Here are the rest of Jack’s completed ‘All About Me’ pages. Here are Joe’s ‘All About Me’ pages. One of the reasons I’d wanted to do a train unit is I knew we were planning to take just Joe and Jack on a special overnight trip to Tweetsie Railroad in NC. We didn’t tell them where we were going till we got there. They were very surprised and super excited. I don’t know who was more excited, me and Jamie or the boys.
We stayed in Boone, NC—just a 15 or so minute drive to Tweetsie in Blowing Rock. We walked around Boone and did some fun stuff there Friday. We headed to Tweetsie first thing Saturday morning and spent the day just having f-u-n! We started off by riding the train first. Tweetsie runs two vintage steam engines. The #12 "Tweetsie" and the #190 "Yukon Queen". Tweetsie #12 is the last surviving steam engine of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC). It ran from Johnson City TN to Boone NC from 1919 to 1940. It was such a fun train ride. Both of the boys LOVED it! I’d wondered if Jack would be scared of the Western gun show the ‘cowboys’ perform during the ride, but he wasn’t the least bit. He actually laughed and thought it was great to watch. Of course, Joe liked it lots too. It was super funny. We enjoyed walking around and looking at the Western town in Tweetsie. It is a cool place. We took Joe to Tweetsie when he was 2 to ride on Thomas, but we haven’t been back since. Joe didn’t remember ever being there and it was Jack’s very first time, so this was a special trip for both of them. Here we are when we rode on Thomas in 2007. I was just barely pregnant with Jack. Back to the present…here are more pictures from our day last weekend. We mined for gems. I won’t lie, this was not enjoyed by anyone but Jack. We are used to gem mining at a different place in NC throughout the year where we get HUGE buckets (for cheap) that are loaded with awesome stones. At Tweetsie, the buckets cost an arm and a leg and are filled with like 5 good stones each. Joe was not impressed to say the least, but Jack LOVED it, and he got some pretty cool stones too.
We did all enjoy the chair lift over to the gem mining area though. This was the only smile we got out of Joe during gem mining. Other than this, he had a blast at Tweetsie. Check out the disgusted look on Joe’s face here (below) when he sees the load of stones Jack is getting, hilarious! Joe was actually walking around sifting through the old sand in the water troughs hoping to find something another person left behind without knowing—desperate :-).
We loved the State Fair area. The boys had so.much.fun on the rides. So did I. We rode the ferris wheel. Jack rode with me. It was the fastest ferris wheel I’ve ever been on and made my stomach drop as we’d go around. Evidently it did Jack’s too because he said, ‘my belly feels funny like it did last night when I drank too much’. I asked if he was going to be sick and his answer was, ‘I’m too busy having fun to be sick’—cute.
We rode the Merry Go Round. The whole time Jack was saying, ‘giddyup horsey, wheeee’ and doing the reigns like he was on a real horse.The boys favorite ride was the Tilt a Whirl. It was spinning way faster than I ever remember from when I was a kid! The boys rode an airplane ride. Jack thought it was the best and again, was yelling, ‘wheeee’ the whole time. We got some cotton candy. Jack was afraid to try it—didn’t like the way it felt. Joe was a little unsure at first, but he was ok with it after his first couple tastes.This was such a fun and special time for me and Jamie with just Joe and Jack. It was fun to watch them together. We enjoyed seeing their excitement over so many new places and things. These are our ‘mountains’ and neither of the boys has ever seen them. Joe was impressed with them most and thought they looked really cool. I am glad we were able to go and that it ended up being just as much fun for the boys as I’d hoped it would be.
Inspiration, ideas and printables I used for Choo Choo: The Runaway Engine can be found at:
- Homeschool Share’s Choo Choo: The Runaway Engine unit
- Homeschool Share’s Trains lapbook – Telling Time Tickets, Special Kinds of Trains and Train Vocabulary
- Counting by 5’s cards
- All About Me Printables @ The First Grade Parade and Itsy Bitsy Learners