The Rain Train

Written By: Elena de Roo

Illustrated By: Brian Lovelock

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Take a moment to look at the cover and illustrations with your child before opening the book. Model great pre-reading behaviors by asking your child questions about the illustrations and narrating what you think will happen throughout the story:

What do you see on the cover? I see a…

What sound does a train make? Chugga chugga choo choo!

Where do you think the train is going? I think it’s going to…

{Flip to a certain page} What do you see in this picture? Oooh, I see...

This will help to engage your child and make connections between the child and the story you are about to read.

As You Read

Get Animated

A great way to keep your child engaged as you read is by having fun yourself and reading the text enthusiastically. Elena de Roo provides great onomatopoeias that help you create the train sounds so whenever you get to a “ratter-tat-tat” or a “ping-itta-pang”, really make it count! You can also have your child repeat the sounds with you to get them involved as well. Ask, “Can you say, ‘ping-itta-pang’ like the train?”

Make Connections

Be sure to make connections between your child’s life and the story you are reading. For example, when you get to the illustration where there is lightning over the train, say “Do you see the lightning? Do you remember when we saw the storm here? There was rain! Rain is wet. There was lightning. Lightning is bright!” Talk about the elements of the storm, and be sure to use lots of your own sounds to engage your little one.

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

For those who are starting to request books multiple times and understanding what they see, begin to gauge their comprehension of the story. Of course, answer these yourself with your child, but for those with words, encourage them to repeat what you say or build on it themselves! Questions might include:

I love this picture. Which picture is your favorite?

What kinds of sounds did the train make? What about the rain?

Where do you think the train went with all of those people?

Ask your child about a possible future trip that you could take on a train. Ask, “If we could go somewhere on a train, where would you want to go? Why? What would we see there? Do you think it would take a long or short time to get there?” As per usual, share where you want to go on the train, too!


Activity: Rainstick

Adapted from Craft Jr

Truth be told, this is going to be a parent-intensive craft. Read: you will do most of the work. That said, there are a few fun ways to include the littlest ones in this activity, and we think it’s the perfect accompaniment to The Rain Train!

Supplies: Empty paper towel roll, tissue paper or construction paper, scissors, white glue, paintbrush, 2 rubber bands, wax paper, aluminum foil, rice, and anything you want to use to decorate your rainstick!

  1. Take a sheet of aluminum foil about 25” long  and roll it into a long tube to make the interior of the rainstick. You can use a dowel to wrap the foil around. Be sure that the final coil is just about the length of your paper towel roll.
  2. Insert the coil into the roll and wrap wax paper around one end of the rainstick. Affix it with a rubber band and cut off the excess paper. Have your kid help you pour the rice into the other side of the rainstick. Seal the other end of the rainstick with wax paper and a rubber band like the previous side.
  3. You can decorate your rainstick in different ways! The first way is to cut pieces of tissue paper and paste them to the stick using a paintbrush and a mixture of white glue and a little water. You can also cover it with construction paper, paint it different colors, color it with markers, etc. You can decorate it however your want!
  4. Once you’re done, simply turn the rainstick from end to end and enjoy the soothing sounds of rain as the rice slides from one end to another! Helpful Tip: turning the stick slowly creates a more realistic effect.

See For Yourself!

Watch this cool reading of The Rain Train where the reader incorporates drum sounds into her storytelling. Maybe next time when you are reading this story to your child, you can incorporate your homemade rainstick and/or a drum (or drum-like object) to add different sounds to your reading and make it more dynamic!

Parent’s Corner

From Zero To Three

As your little one is discovering new things every day, you can help him/her make the most of these experiences and create endless “teachable moments”. One way to do this is by using bathtime to teach simply math and science concepts. For example, use a cup to fill up and dump out water to show how it can be empty or full. Use a rubber duck to demonstrate cause and effect as s/he splashes it around, disturbing the water and perhaps getting you wet in the process. For older children, ask them to help you by counting the stairs as you go upstairs or handing out enough crackers so that everyone has one. Check out this site for more great tips on child development.