When Strawberry was more consistent at getting to the number 10 when counting on her own, and yet numbers even higher than that seem incomprehensible to her, we decided to grasp the concept of 100, a high number, by making a paper clip counting 100 train together.

To better understand the concept of 100, we read Crossing and then made our own paper clip 100 train.

In the simple train book Crossing by Philip Booth, the gates go down at a small town railroad crossing in the earlier part of the century. Kids jump and cheer as it passes. They peek at each other underneath the cars and name the brands they see on the train cars. They count the cars (although not every number is shown in the book), and at the last car they yell “caboose!” I love the rhythmic rhyme in Crossing, and I also love that the illustrations are so rich. One two-page spread even shows the entire 100-car train!

Although a preschooler does not need to know how to count so high, understanding the concept of getting to a “huge” number is an important step. We can count high together to come to understand 100 days, 100 bites, 100 train cars, or 100 paper clips. Once we start counting days in school (starting this fall!), making a 100 train will be a great way to celebrate 100 days of school. It seems like so much to a young child, but by counting one at a time, or by counting to 10 ten times, we can get there together.

We started by counting to ten, and found the page in the book that showed the count to ten. Then, I made the first chain of ten in the colors that my daughter suggested. For the next few groups of ten, I did similar colors and Strawberry helped me make sure each was the same length. Then, we put our paper clip 100 train together. She loved seeing how long it was. We laid it next to the full two-page spread of the train in the book so we could see how long both of them were.

How many is 100? we can count the train cars or make our own paper clip 100 train to figure it out!

At this point, Strawberry simply wanted to play with her train. She made shapes out of the long line and made the “train cars” talk to each other. Everything is alive and has a personality for her!

My daughter's favorite part of our paper clip 100 train activity was then playing with the train when we were done counting!

Then, if she were older (or had even a slightly longer attention span), we would do some additional activities. Here are some other ideas for extending the learning with this book.

  • Count to 100 together by pointing to the different cars in the book’s illustration.
  • Count to 100 by holding up the 100 train.
  • Measure how tall she is using paper clip train cars as the standard of measure.
  • Find an item in the house that is the same length as our 100 train.
  • Review the safety phrase in the beginning of the book. (“Stop. Look. Listen.”) Discuss why they are important.
  • Make a 100’s chart and mark off the numbers mentioned in the book.
  • Visit a train museum and count the cars on a train there. (We have such a museum within a half hour drive of our home and we love to visit!)

Crossing is a fantastic and fun book to read simply for it’s rhyme, rhythm, and illustrations. But it also captures the concept of 100 with the fact that the train itself is 100 cars long. It is a great way to introduce the concept of a large number to a young child!

See also the free Count to 100 Printable Crowns. The Number Train is also available at TeachersPayTeachers.

This post is a part of the Homeschool Blogging Network’s series, 10 Days of Tips for Homeschooling Moms.

This week, I’m going to share 10 days of Picture Book Preschool Lessons

10 Days of Picture Book Preschool Lessons

Click over to the landing page to see the other posts I will be sharing. You can also see what tips the other homeschooling bloggers are sharing on their blogs.

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  1. Looks like a great book. I’ve never seen that one, but we just took a train ride so it might be a good book to remind us. Great extension activities too! Thanks for sharing!

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