Songs about Trains Unit
Here’s a collect of lesson plans sure to keep your middle school chorus busy through the winter doldrums to spring! (Or fall doldrums to winter break…) I’ve used this unit with both 6th and 7th grade and it’s been a hit. Luckily I have a nice train museum nearby, so I added a field trip to the unit.
There are plenty of train songs you could use with this unit, so look through your general music textbooks and music library and get creative. This unit includes “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” “Chatanooga Choo Choo,” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I would also suggestion “John Henry,” “The Wabash Cannonball,” “This Train.” If you’re doing this unit in the fall, “The Polar Express” might be a hit. There are lots of arrangements of that music for band and orchestra.
“On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” comes from the movie musical The Harvey Girls. Studying and then watching this musical was an important part of this unit. It’s a funny enough story line that my middle schoolers were really hooked. And it’s a shorter film, too, so you feel less guilty about wasting instructional time!
This unit also includes a lesson on the importance of trains. Today kids just hop in the car and mom takes them wherever. I don’t think they understand that 150 years ago, no one went anywhere beyond their hometown. It took too long to get there. Trains changed that and made large-scale travel possible.