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Train Across Canada

Discover Canada’s rushing rivers, majestic mountains, and rolling prairies. Admire the scenery from the vantage point of a passenger or freight train.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Steep waterfalls, mountain passes, swampy woods, rolling prairies, still lakes, rushing rivers, and more pass by your window. Where are you? On a train crossing Canada! The National Canadian Railways is a system that merges more than 200 separate railways to move freight around this great country. Via Rail Canada is a separate system that carries people.
    2. Construction of a railway was one of the conditions a territory was required to meet before it could join the Dominion of Canada. Look at a map or go on the Internet to find the distances covered by trains in Canada. Check out photographs of historic trains. Provide time in the school day for students, working in small groups, to research the history behind the development of this railway system.
    3. Once research is complete and organized, students will make a triarama stage for their train scenes. They begin by cutting a large square from a recycled file folder with Crayola® Scissors. Save the scraps. Fold the points of the square together in both directions. This makes a line from each corner to the center. Unfold. Cut along one fold to the center. Later, students will slide the two pieces on either side of the cut under each other to make the triarama stand up.
    4. Students choose the Canadian terrain that their train will be passing through. Is it on a bridge crossing a stream, clinging to the edge of a mountain, or clearing a path through snow? Students sketch ideas on the back and bottom of their triaramas with Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils.
    5. Next students select the type of train they’re riding. Is it a freight train, a contemporary passenger train, or perhaps a historic steam engine? Students draw and color trains (except the engines) with colored pencils and Crayola Washable Markers. Fold one bottom part of the triarama underneath. Seal the bottom with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry the triarama overnight.
    6. To make the train appear to be moving forward, students design a 3-D engine. From the file folder scraps, fold and cut a rectangular box. Decorate it to resemble a train engine. Glue the sides. Air-dry the engine.
    7. Add any details and final colors. Glue the engine on the triarama. ALL ABOARD!
    8. Provide an opportunity for students to share their research with small groups of classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

    SS: Identify examples of institutions and describe the interactions of people with institutions.

    SS: Explore the role of technology in communications, transportation, information-processing, weapons development, or other areas as it contributes to or helps resolve conflicts.

    SS: Identify and describe examples in which science and technology have changed the lives of people, such as in homemaking, childcare, work, transportation, and communication.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: The Kids Book of Canada by Barbara Greenwood; The Kids Book of Canadian History by Carlotta Hacker & John Mantha; Kids Book of Canadian Geography by Briony Penn

    Students use their knowledge of the coordinate plane to plot and sketch their terrain scenes, focusing on Quadrants I and II only. Once all ordered pairs are plotted and illustration created, students color scene using Crayola Colored Pencils. Cut Quadrants III & IV away from Quadrants I & II so as to allow the scenes to become the background for triaramas. Students may provide written directions for replicating their scene.

    Students design a variety of backgrounds for their triaramas, illustrating four separate terrains such as coastal, urban, wintry, and /or historic.

    Students research the various wildlife living in selected terrains across Canada. Sketch appropriate wildlife and set them in the triarama. Paper tabs on the legs of the wildlife will allow for a 3-D effect.

    Students investigate a variety of routes the Canadian rail service travels. Create a scale map and document the routes researched. Calculate the distance between identified stops. Identify specific points of interest that you would stop at if you were traveling on board the train. What would be the total miles traveled?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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