Read the Book Aloud

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The Little Engine that Could

Mini Unit Plan

(Activities for One Day in Pre-K or Kindergarten)
Read the Book Aloud

  • Review the names of parts of a book: title, author, illustrator, front cover, back cover, and spine.

  • Predict and Preview: Ask students to look at the cover of the book and share what they think the book will be about.

  • Read the story aloud to students.

  • Modifications for students with autism (if necessary): (1) for predict and preview, point to a character on the book cover, ask the student “what is this?” and, after the student responds, say something like, “Yes, that’s right. The story might be about a train.” This introduced the concept of making a prediction based on the cover art, (2) have the names of each part of the book written on a card, and show the card to students as you point to and discuss each part of the book (placing the written word on the actual part of the book). This provides a visual aid for the student with autism to go along with your spoken words, (3) praise/reward the student when he or she is looking at the book as you are reading, or is responding to your questions about the book.

Food Group Sort

  • Students will sort pictures of food into the food groups mentioned in the book (dairy, fruit, and vegetables) into train cars labeled for each category.

  • Students cut out and paste the foods into the car for the appropriate category.

  • Work pages are attached.

  • Modifications for students with autism (if necessary): this activity is designed to be visually clear for students with autism by having the pictures of different fruit, vegetables, and dairy products already on the trains. If a student needs additional support with this activity, model one or two sorts while the student watches. Then, give one to the student to sort, prompting him to the correct category if needed. Prompt a few, then allow the student to try on his or her own. Continue to prompt if needed.


  • Serve sliced apples or oranges (two healthy foods mentioned in the book). Use pre-packaged fruit slices if regulations require it.

Art – Train Wheel Painting

  • Roll empty yarn spools in paint. The students “drive” the spools around the paper to create a painting.

Math – Identify First and Last in a Series

  • Line up a series of toy trains.

  • Ask the children one at a time to come forward and either point to or hand you either the first or last train car.

  • Prompt as needed.

  • Modifications for students with autism (if necessary): write (in large letters) ‘first’ and ‘last’ on two index cards (one word per card). Say the word as you lay it on the corresponding train car. Model this several times for each position and then give the card to the child (still saying the word as you give it to him). Prompt him to put it on the corresponding car if necessary. Fade the prompt as soon as possible. This modification is more appropriate for an older student, particularly a student learning to read.

Art/Writing Project

  • Use attached template: “My train can carry…”

  • Students pick one or more items that they would like their train car to carry.

  • Students draw the picture of their item in the train car, and color the train.

  • Students or the teacher write the name of the item(s).

  • Modifications for students with autism (if necessary): if the student does not understand the directions to draw a picture of an item, the student could choose from pictures to cut out and paste in the train. The teacher could also draw outlines in the train car for the student to trace.

Fine Motor

  • Build a train track: have a toy train and track in a play center for children to build.

  • Train track tracing: have children move their finger along the paper track from top to bottom.

Social: Taking Turns

  • Give each student a number of train cars. The group builds the train with each person putting their trains on one at a time.

  • Review as you go, “It’s Jenny’s turn…now it’s Ben’s turn, etc.”

Lesson Plan © 2008. Positively Autism.

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