All Aboard the Movement Train!

Children will explore movement while moving like a train.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

Children will explore movement as they work together to remain connected while moving like a train through the dance space.


What You'll Need

  • Large space – enough for children to move safely without touching each other
  • Tape – masking or electrical
  • Music – any movement music (see Lesson Tips for suggestions)
  • Audio device – for playing music
  • Pictures of trains 

What To Do

Note: This lesson is best taught after the lesson, Creating Pathways Through Movement, available on this website. Prior to beginning the lesson, use the tape to make straight, curved, and zigzag sections of pathways across the floor.

  1. Discuss the important rules of dance lessons (see Lesson Tips), and have the children stand up and perform the steps of the Warm Up:
    1. Breathing – Take several deep breaths in and out slowly.
    2. Touch – Using gentle energy, tap/tickle your skin all over the body (arms, shoulders, belly, legs, etc.). Then, using stronger energy, squeeze all over your body to wake up your skin and senses.
    3. Get Moving – Do several movements that will get the blood flowing. Some examples might be jumping, running in place with high knees, swinging arms or kicking legs, and jumping with legs crossed and then with legs open.
  2. Tell the children they will be pretending to move like a train through the dance space.
  3. Explain that trains have different cars that need to work together to move on the tracks. Ask children for their ideas on what to do in order to move like a train; focus on staying connected.
  4. Choose three children to be the engineer to lead the train, conductor to welcome riders aboard, and a caboose. The remaining children will be the cars on the train.
  5. Assist children with lining up and placing their hands on the shoulders of the child in front of them as the conductor says, “Welcome Aboard!”
  6. Remind the children that they are a train and will need to cooperate to stay connected to each other.
  7. Once all children are lined up, cue up the music (see Lesson Tips) and have the conductor say, “All Aboard!”
  8. The engineer will lead and begin moving the train through the empty spaces in the room by following straight, curved, and zigzag pathways that have been previously taped to the floor.
  9. Tell the children that the “cars” will need to stay connected to each other as they follow the engine on the track (taped pathway).
  10. Remind the children that they will need to move at a medium tempo to be safe. If the train moves too slowly, the “cars” might pile up; but if the train moves too fast, the “cars” might fall off the track!
  11. Remind the children to freeze when the music stops.
  12. Once stopped, choose another child to be the engineer; the previous engineer now becomes the caboose, the caboose is now the conductor, and the previous conductor is now a car on the train. Continue this rotation until everyone has had a turn at each of the jobs.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Explain what we needed to do to move like a train.
  • Describe what happens when you move and you are holding someone’s hand.
  • Tell me about the job of the engineer (conductor, caboose) on the train.
  • Explain what might happen to our train if it moves at a too fast (or too slow) tempo.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Teachers can create a tunnel by standing and facing toward one another with arms stretching forward and palms touching. The train can move under the tunnel.
  • Divide the class into two groups. Each group will pretend to be a train by connecting hands to shoulders. Remind engineers to move through the empty spaces in the room. If they are moving toward another train, they will need to choose a new pathway by changing direction.
  • Display pictures of different types of trains, such as freight, passenger, and subway trains. Examine the trains and discuss how they are alike and different. Talk about what all trains have in common—an engine, cars, an engineer, a conductor—and that they are all connected.
  • Place engineer’s caps, pencils, and pads of paper for making tickets in the dramatic play area. Arrange rows of chairs side by side with a special seat in the front for the engineer. Children can set up a train ticket booth to sell tickets and ride the train.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children explain that they needed to stay connected in order to move like a train?
  • Could children describe how their movement affected the other people they were holding hands with?
  • Could children describe the different jobs on the train?
  • Could children explain that the train needs to move at a medium tempo to keep the train connected?


Did You Know?

Creative movement is an excellent way to integrate physical activities into any curriculum. Listening and responding to directions helps children to learn to control their bodies. Working in a group inspires social skills as children are learning to cooperate by moving through a group space together. An additional benefit of creative movement is that these skills carry over to other daily activities. 

People who work on trains have a variety of different jobs and need to work together to keep the train running on schedule. The engineer is responsible for the safe operation and control of the train. Conductors have many tasks. They are in charge of the safety and actions of the crew. Speed restrictions, keeping to the schedule, and communicating with the engineer are among the many duties of the conductor. The caboose is the last car on a freight train. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • movement – a way of changing position or place.
  • engineer – the person who runs the engine of a train.
  • caboose – a car at the rear of a freight train.
  • conductor – the person in charge of the train who also collects payment.
  • cargo – the goods carried by a ship, airplane, train, or other vehicle.
  • tempo – the speed at which a musical piece is played.

Lesson Tips

  • Important rules of dance lessons:
    1. Listen to the teacher; wait to move, and stop movement when the teacher tells you.
    2. Keep your body safe while moving.
    3. Stay in your own self-space.
  • Search online for music selections such as On a Train, Mary Lefleur #9; The Choo Choo Train, Catherine Miller #9; or Choo Choo Train, Patty Shukla #11.
  • Tell the children that they will each get a chance to be the engineer, conductor, and caboose.
  • You may want to be the first train engineer so children can follow your lead when taking their turn as the engineer.
  • Once the children understand the concept of moving together, you may want to divide the children up to create more than one train.


  • I Love Trains by Philemon Sturges
  • Freight Train by Donald Crews
  • Magic Train Ride by Sally Crabtree
  • The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS