The Little Engine that Could Lesson Plan

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Use this lesson plan to introduce perseverance to your students. Students will listen to The Little Engine that Could, listen to stories of real life perseverance, and write their own story of perseverance.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define perseverance
  • identify real-world examples of perseverance
  • understand how the story The Little Engine that Could is about perseverance


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.


Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.


  • A copy of the text lesson or something to project it
  • A copy of The Little Engine that Could
  • Supplies to make story books (paper, art supplies, staples/glue, etc.)


NOTE: The text lesson contained in this lesson plan is written for older students. In order to apply it appropriately to young students, read it ahead of time and be prepared to paraphrase some areas of the story, if necessary.

  • Begin the lesson by asking students to think of a time when they overcame a challenge. If students want to share the challenge they overcame, ask them to tell the story.
  • Write the word 'perseverance' on the board and read the section 'What is Perseverance?' from the text lesson Perseverance: Definition, Quotes & Examples.
  • Have students provide a definition for what perseverance is. Write this on the board.
  • Do a read-aloud of The Little Engine that Could. While reading, ask students to identify the challenges in the story, as well as what the little engine did to overcome them.
  • Now read the remainder of the text lesson: Perseverance: Definition, Quotes & Examples. Focus on the challenges and what the people did to overcome them. Possible questions:
  • How did Thomas Edison persevere? How about Harland Sanders? How are these people like the little engine? Etc.
  • Answer any remaining questions before moving on to the activity.

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