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Rainbow Cafe | and the train goes...

This half term, our regular Story Cafe for the preshoolers and their families, was based on the book "and the train goes..." by William Bee.  I was recommended this by a friend whose son loves it, and now I know why!


It's about a train and all the passengers that are travelling and the text sort of makes you read it in the rhythm of a steam train!  As usual we started off by introducing families to the Rainbow Cafe concept - it's just a relaxed and informal family workshop designed to encourage a love of stories, and to inspire families to use stories in lots of different ways at home.  Then we read the story.  I asked the children what they thought you might need to go on a train journey - a ticket of course - so I gave all the children a ticket at the start of the story.  As I read the story, I pull several props out of my story sack at relevant points and the children and their parents join in with the noises.




Story Props - For "and the train goes...", I put together a story sack of props.  This included little train tickets, a clock made from a paper plate, my old wooden station and some passengers, a parrot puppet and a cup and saucer.  When we get to the bit about the ladies on their day out, I produce the cup and saucer from my story sack and pretend to slurp a cup of tea just like the ladies on the train!


Story Activities - when we have finished reading the story, children and their families go off to make their own story props to take home and use to re-tell the story.  We have brown paper "take-way" bags and stickers with the name of the book printed on them, for the children to take home in what they have made - the children always like to decorate the bags too.  I put out a selection of open-ended materials, old cereal box card, lolly sticks, glue, sellotape, tissue paper, toilet roll and kitchen roll tubes and coloured pens and pencils.  I also always put out some colouring sheets related to the story.  Children and their families made train, train tracks, carriages and station clocks...


After this we break for a drink and a chat.  Then we all get together on the carpet again for a re-telling of the story (or sometimes a related story).  This time we re-read "and the train goes..." and everyone joined in with the train noises.  I also set up a story related "Communication Friendly Space" - this time it was some pieces of wooden train track, some wooden trains and carriages all on a plain rug with a couple of train stories to look at.  So if any of the children have finished gluing and sticking they can play and explore the story.

Links to the Early Years Foundation Stage - Story Cafe links to all areas of the EYFS depending on the story chosen and the activities provided, but for this one child development outcomes include -

  • Literacy - showing interest in books, listening to and joining in with stories, enjoying rhyming stories, predicting what happens next and how stories might end, interested in illustrations, linking sounds and letters, enjoying an increasing range of books.
  • Communication & Language - listening and attention - listening to and enjoying rhythmic patterns in rhymes and stories, listening with interest to the noises adults make when they read stories.
More train stories - if you love this story you might also like this selection of train stories - it's not an exhaustive list but does contain some really good ones...



When I was small my favourite train stories were "Ivor the Engine".  I loved the illustrations and the funny names of the characters and I always remember the one about the dragon called Idris who lived on the top of the mountain.  I'm sure this is why I liked "and the train goes..." by William Bee - the illustrations are so detailed and remind me of those by Peter Firmin in Ivor the Engine.



Do you have any old favourite train stories?

For more story ideas and inspiration:

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