HOME: The Story of Maine

"Trails, Rails, and Roads"
Lesson 1: "Language and Transportation"


Guiding Principles:

I. A Clear and Effective Communicator

  • Uses oral, written, visual, artistic and technological modes of expression.
  • Uses English and at least one other language.

    VI. An Integrative and Informed Thinker

  • Applies knowledge and skills in and across English language arts, visual and performing arts, foreign languages, health and physical education, mathematics, science, social studies, and career preparation.


    C. Language and Images

  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of how words and images communicate. Students will be able to:

    Middle Grades: 5-8

  • Understand factors that commonly affect language change and use.

    Secondary Grades

  • Demonstrate understanding of the history of and changes in the English language by explaining examples.


    B. Historical Knowledge, Concepts, and Patterns

  • Students will develop knowledge of major events, people, and enduring themes in the United States, in Maine, and throughout world history. Students will be able to:

    Middle Grades: 5-8

  • Demonstrate an understanding of selected twentieth century issues and events in U.S. and Maine history including "modern" Maine history.

    Secondary Grades

  • Explain how different ways of knowing and believing have influenced human history and culture.

  • Students will:

  • Work collaboratively to come up with the various origins of a given set of transportation idioms.
  • Search for current idioms related to transportation.
  • Create a class list of transportation idioms.


  • Copies of Student Worksheet: Idiom List
  • Copies of Answers: Idiom List

    Timing: 2-3 Class periods


    1. View video "Trails, Rails, and Roads" together. Discuss the importance of transportation to our culture. Make a list on the board-how many different kinds of transportation does everyone in the room use in a given day? While on vacation? Which of the kinds listed here were available 100 years ago? Were there other kinds of transportation available then that are no longer available now?

    2. Make the connection between transportation and language-how something that we may take for granted, like transportation, actually is so important that it becomes a vital part of the way we speak. Examples: The Information Highway (a name for the Internet that appropriates the idea of a modern highway as being the fastest, most direct way to get somewhere); Keep on truckin' (keep at it); It's just like riding a bicycle (once you learn it, you never forget). Each of these terms originated from some kind of transportation.

    3. Give students the student worksheet idiom lists. Split them into groups. Have them try to think of the meaning and/or origins of each of the idioms listed, and add their hypotheses to the appropriate column. When they are finished, hand out the Answers: Idiom List, or display it on an overhead transparency. If you like, give out some sort of prize for the groups that get the closest to the actual meaning and origin of the term.

    4. For homework, have students come up with 5-10 idioms that have to do with transportation. Find out their origins and approximately when they originated. Give students a few days to accomplish this task.

    5. Once they have collected their idioms, break the class into pairs and have each student challenge his or her classmate to come up with the meanings and/or origins of their idioms. Make a class list of transportation idioms by combining all the students' idioms and copy it for the whole class to use.

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