All Aboard the Polar Express!

by Kelli Lewis

Comment on this post to win a $20 School Box Gift Card! We give away gift cards weekly. Just in time for Christmas presents!

One of my favorite books to read during this time of the year is The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg! Elementary students absolutely love reading it and hearing it read to them over and over. Here are some ways to engage your students with the book and some activities that you can do after reading.

Watch the movie!

After reading the book to your students, allow them to watch the movie together as a class. You could even allow your students to wear pajamas and bring their favorite stuffed animal for the movie day. Pop popcorn and have hot chocolate during the movie to make it even more festive! One way to make this academic is to incorporate Venn diagrams and have a discussion on how the movie and book compare and contrast with one another.

Create a train!

Since The Polar Express is a train, allow the students to each create a piece of the train, and then assemble it together as a class. Bring in shoe boxes and send out letters to parents requesting that they send in any extra shoe boxes that they may have lying around. Shoe boxes may also be donated from local stores.

Students can also bring in supplies to create and decorate their piece of the train. You can also contribute any materials or supplies you may have lying around, such as scraps of wrapping paper, ribbons, stickers, etc. Depending on the age and level of your students, you can also allow your students to create one piece/shoebox for the train as a group– adding cooperative learning to the mix.

Another option is to leave the train pieces/shoe boxes open (discarding the lid) and allow students to bring things to place in them, such as canned goods, toys, etc. for the less fortunate during the holiday season. Most schools are already participating in some type of event as such. Your class’s Polar Express train could be the way your class contains your donated items.

Silver bells!

Since a big part of The Polar Express is the special silver bell, it would be a special and meaningful idea to give each student their own silver bell after the day is over, to take home. This would a great conversation starter among their family and friends, and a great way for them to retell the story to others…furthering their summarizing and retelling skills in a festive way!

Kelli Lewis is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who is chock-full of great ideas and insights. We’re so glad she shares them with us at A Learning Experience!



Filed under Activities, Cooperative Learning, Reading

3 responses to “All Aboard the Polar Express!

  1. Susan

    We watch the movie and read the book and listen to the soundtrack every year. It is so good that you can find something for every age group. Susan

  2. We are doing all of this on Monday. I agree with Susan that it is wonderful to have a story that is fun for all ages. We wear our pajamas, read the book, give out bell necklaces, write about what we would ask for the first gift of Christmas and finally watch the movie while we eat donuts and drink hot cocoa. Then at night our school has Polar Express Night. Children can wear their pajamas and go from room to room to hear teachers read different Christmas stories. Then they can go into the cafeteria for milk and cookies. Then its off to bed!!! Fun day and night!!

  3. elizabeth

    Hope you all are enjoying your Polar Express activities! Susan is our random comment winner from last week. Many thanks– and happy holidays!