A Preschool Train Craft: The Little Engine that Could

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You can make this train craft early in the year to teach your preschool students about having higher self-esteem in themselves and setting goals.


  • The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
  • One sheet of 9" by 12" construction paper, per child - any color
  • One sheet of white typing paper, per child
  • Two black paper circles, per child, for the wheels of the train car
  • Crayons
  • A black marker
  • Glue


  1. Start this lesson by gathering the students in front of you for a story. Read the book, The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, to the class. As you read discuss the story, pointing out how even though the little blue engine was small, she helped pull the train over the mountain. Talk with your preschoolers about how important it is to believe in yourself and to keep trying, even when something is hard.
  2. After you finish with the story, ask the students what things they want to accomplish in school during the year. You might give them some ideas like learning to write their names, to count to 20, read books, etc. Tell them to think of one thing that they want to do and that they are going to make a special picture showing it.
  3. Give each student a piece of white paper and some crayons and have them draw a picture of themselves doing whatever they thought of. As they draw and color, go to each student and ask him what he is drawing. Then write it on the paper using the prompt “I think I can …”
  4. After all of the pictures are finished, show the students how to glue their picture onto the middle of a colored sheet of construction paper and then to glue two black circles to the bottom to make train cars.
  5. Collect all of the train cars and hang them in a line like a train. You might want to make an engine and a caboose for the train. Add the words “We think we can!” to make a cute bulletin board display.


  • Read other books with determined main characters, like Katy and the Big Snow and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel both by Virginia Lee Burton.
  • To revisit this topic later in year read the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Coney and let the students draw pictures of things they want to do when they grow up.
  • If you are using this as part of a train unit, try these other fun train lesson ideas.
  • Try this lesson for emergent readers that also uses the book, The Little Engine That Could.