Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Read with Me! Book 12 - The Little Engine That Could

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

This story is a classic! I haven't read it since I was a child, but the concepts I learned have suck with me! It's all about having a positive attitude and helping others as you are able (and then some!). Reading this as an adult, with a better understanding of the world and people, I realize that the other engines although they are powerful and fancy, they are selfish... and I can use them as an example to my daughter. Other language skills that can be addressed in this book are:

Attitudes and feelings: The first feeling we encounter in this story is "merrily" - definitely a word we don't frequently use anymore! Then the engine stopped. Here you can talk about feelings like disappointment, sadness, frustration. We next encounter hope! Only to be disappointed again by pride and selfishness. They then meet a very conceited engine. Then they meet an engine who feels depressed, hopeless. He tells himself "I can not. I can not. I can not." How sad. But all hope is not lost...  next comes the little blue engine who does not let inexperience or assumed weakness keep her from trying. She is happy (merry), kind and compassionate. She chants (which I think we all remember) "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." as she slowly struggles up the mountain. When they reach the top of the mountain they all cheer "Hurray!" What a great feeling of accomplishment! They are happy and excited! When she leaves she chants "I thought I could."  I think that it is important at the end of something to reflect back on what just happened and the attitudes and feelings we had along the way!

Descriptions: While I could stop right after going over the feelings and attitudes in the story because that is an excellent language lesson, you will probably read this story multiple times. So, during one of the subsequent readings you could focus on the great adjectives in this story. There is a jolly load of toys, giraffes with long necks, dolls with blue eyes and brown bobbed heads. I like the double adjective descriptions: happy, little train; big golden oranges; shiny new engine; big strong engine and rusty old engine. There are so many descriptions that help enhance the story. I hope you enjoy them!

Problem solving: There is one main problem that is encountered in this story...how to get the toys and good things over the mountain to the good children on the other side. Each time the toys think they have solved it (they see an engine who they think can help), they realize that they are no closer to getting over the mountain. After each engine says "no"the toys feel sad and then decided that that train is not the only one in the world, so there must be another solution. Have your child problem solve what he thinks the toys should do.

Vocabulary: Since this story was written at the latest 1930 (and possibly around 1906 see the wikipedia info on this story here) it has a lot of vocabulary words that we don't typically use but most of us have been exposed to so we are familiar with the meaning.  This book will likely be your child's first encounter with some of these words. Here are some of the words that I would review/introduce to my daughter: rumbled, jolly, jack-knives, merrily, passenger, comfortable, berth, waiters, parlor, roundhouse, bellowed, rusty, weary, aboard and all of those feeling/attitude words listed above (even though they are not named in the story).

Ok, that is a lot of stuff to do for one little, old story...but that is why it is a classic! I hope that you and your child enjoy and learn while reading this story!

For more activities that go along with The Little Engine that Could, check out my pinterest page.

If you would like to own this book, below is a link to Amazon or you can check it out at your local library!

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