The Finds

Trains Unit Study {Free}

Trains Unit Study {Free}

Most youngsters love trains!  We can use this interest to engage them in learning while developing their reading, writing, and researching skills.  This free trains unit study from Jennifer Steward (Steward Ship Unit Studies) is a great start!

“TRAINS: Iron Workhorses in the Age of Steam” begins with the history of trains and the contribution of significant events to the railroad industry, such as the invention of the steam engine, the cattle drives to Abilene, and the California Gold Rush.

With this background we delve into the following areas of interest:

  • Creating a biographical sketch of James Watt, inventor of the steam engine.
  • Creating a timeline of significant railroad events.
  • Understanding the different occupations on a train.
  • Understanding the function of the various railway cars.
  • Researching train disasters, problems, and solutions.
  • Researching The Transcontinental Railroad and its contribution to the movement West.
  • Calculating distances and understanding horsepower.
  • Diagramming a steam engine and explaining how it works.
  • Creating a train model.
  • Drawing a train.

You’ll also find recommended resources, literature, and picture books.

Many of the projects are very open-ended.  Some like this, others find it daunting.  We’ve provided a few resources to help you out in either case.


Further Information

Biography of James Watt
Includes timeline of his life.

Railroad Timeline History
Major events in railroad history.

Railway safety information.

What is Horsepower?
Explanation and formula.



Amtrak Activity Book
Free download for youngsters to familiarize them with the trains and the people on them.  Helpful info!

What’s in Those Railroad Cars?
Activity for younger ones that culminates in them creating a train model.  This can be used to create the wall train mentioned in the unit.

Toy Train
Create a paper train model.

How to Draw a Train
Jan Brett video!



Trains At Work {Free eBook}Trains at Work {Free eBook}
Great go-along in the public domain.


Unit Studies

The Transcontinental Railroad: A Unit Study
Our own unit with loads of historical information, interactive activities and maps, coloring pages, great books, lapbooks, and notebooking pages.

The Steam Locomotive: A Unit Study
Our own unit with information on how a steam engine works, along with biographies, animations, tours, recommended reading, and notebooking pages.