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Polar Express Ideas

Compiled By: lovetolaugh

During Christmas time many of us enjoy having a Polar Express theme based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg and also the wonderful movie they created. Here are some ideas to incorporate with the story, movie, or both!

Can't wait for our Polar Express Party....
Posted by: tish

I just got home from spending time at school decorating for our Polar Express party next Thursday. I am decorating a little each day and wanted to get most of it done by this weekend for snow is coming. The room will be completely transformed by next week. I just got done hanging 56 snowflakes in my classroom. It looks like a blizzard has hit the room. Yesterday I put up my white tree with blue decorations. The children love coming into the room each day to see what I have added. Each window has tinsel surrounding them with snowflakes window clings in the middle of them. The students will wear their pajamas to school. They are really excited about that. I bought a new blue robe and slippers to wear for that day. I will read the story to them and then in the afternoon we will watch the movie. Hot chocolate with be served along with (SNOWBALLS) really just white doughnut holes. We will make the candy train out of a lifesaver roll and a few others items. I have an activity booklet for them to work on during the morning. The night before I will decorate the room with blue lights. I have 15 battery operated lanterns which will be turned on. Outside the room, I will be putting down a train track leading to my room made from black electrical tape. Their tickets are already displayed on the bulleting board outside my room. I was able to purchase a Railroad Crossing light that will be beside the track. They will line up outside my room ....I will punch their tickets and blow my train whistle for each student and then only one student at a time will enter the room. I also bought them each their own train whistles and made a necklace with a silver bell on it. I guess the sudents have been talking to their parents and they want to see the room that day. I am telling them they may take a peek before the children come from the breakfast room. I guess I am getting just as excited as the students. Wish me Luck!

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Polar Express Unit
Posted by: tish

I have a whole unit planned on this. I have bought train whistles for each child. My bell necklaces are made and will be taped under each chair. The chairs are arranged like rows on a train. I am making cookies shaped like trains. Hot chocolate will be served. Pjs will be worn that day for the party. My room will be decorated like the North Pole. Train tracks will be made out of black electrical tape outside my door and down the hall. I will greet them at the door.for them to receive their tickets to enter the room. Don't forget to punch their tickets once they are seated. The story will be read to them. Afterwards a few worksheets about the polar express will be worked upon while I am making the hot chocolate. Then we will watch the movie in the afternoon. ALL ABOARD! I can't wait.

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Polar Express
Posted by: readerleader

I arrange chairs as if they are on a train. Print tickets for each child for boarding the "train". You could even have a pajama day and serve hot chocolate. Then I read the book. I also hide a bell on a silver ribbon in each desk. Then I announce that we need to clean out our desks (including me). They want to believe so badly, this really hooks them, especially when I find a bell in my desk too!

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Polar Express reading
Posted by: teacherkathy

I read the Polar Express the last day before Christmas break with a little drama. When the kids come in from recess, I greet them at the door and hand out tickets I've printed onto card stock with Polar Express/North Pole etc etc written on them. They enter a darkened room that's lit only by little lights that I have up around my calendar area all year (obviously I have Santas, snowflakes, etc. this time of year). I've arranged the chairs into a long row of 2 each side by side, train-style. After everyone is seated, I become the conductor and ask for tickets, and I punch them and hand them back. I serve them hot chocoate and candy canes and when everyone is served, I read the book, with an adult or older kid holding a flashlight so they can see the pictures as I walk up and down the "aisle" of the train.

The older kids who have been in my room in the past walk by on their way into recess that day, and see the darkened room and the tickets in my hand, and they make comments about wishing they were still little enough to participate. So I know it's a hit!

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I love the Polar Express
Posted by: Patti S.

You could make story problems about buying tickets for the train. Make the tickets fancy and magical. You could also have them buy magical "snowy" snacks. You could even bring in Hostess snowballs, candy canes, etc. for them to buy with the money! You could even make things out of construction paper(candy canes, warm hat, gloves, picture with Santa, stocking) that they could buy as souvenirs when leaving the north pole. You could also make some elves...Santa holds the dollar, the next smaller elf holds the quarter, the next smaller elf holds the dime, the next smallest the nickel, and a baby elf holds the penny.. Let the children give the elves a name and write the names on the elves. Now ask children who would have to help you make a certain amount of money, like 82 cents. Let them think of all the different ways to make it, but they have to use the elf names....Like 3 Hermies, 1 Elfie, and two Midgets.

Book Bag
Posted by: Mrs. T.

Our kindergarten classes are doing a Polar Express day this year...but in the bag you could include a hot chocolate packet. You could create a Christmas memory game using clipart with either tickets or cocoa mug shapes for the cards. You could give a set amount of bells or tickets and have the students create addition or subtraction sentences with them. You could have a journal and have the students write about their favorite Christmas present.

Thanks for the websites above too!:)

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your idea
Posted by: BookMuncher

I think it would make for a very special experience if they got to read it at home with their parents and THEN you did the polar express day once everyone has had a chance to get the bag. Repeated interactions with books always allow for a deeper understanding and it is also a way to pull the parents in.

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No title
Posted by: msharkey

Mrs T,
Love the hot chocolate packet idea! (and it's cheaper and more cozy!) Also love the idea of making addition and/or subtraction problems with clip art. A reply above has a graph activity with Polar Express Clip art that could easily be used to do this! THANKS!!!!

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Polar Express
Posted by: teacherkathy

I also do a Polar Express activity the last day before Christmas break. When the kids are at recess, I set the chairs up "train" fashion, turn out the lights except the many strands of holiday lights I have up, and I put on my conductor hat. I have meanwhile been heating hot chocolate in a pot in the classroom, and as the kids come in, I give them a ticket and have them take a seat in the "train." I blow my train whistle, yell "All Aboard the Polar Express" and start punching their tickets. Then I serve everyone hot chocolate and read the story book with a flashlight (it helps to have an older student or an adult helper to point the flashlight so the kids can see the pictures). Kids that I had YEARS ago still talk about it, and as other classes walk by my room that day, they're all complaining that they wish they could still do the Polar Express!

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No title
Posted by: smudgie

We read the book in our classrooms and wear pjs or bathrobes. We hand out bells on a red ribbon and all the first grades parade through the school singing Christmas & Hannukah songs. For the Christmas party we make a Polar Express train by gluing 4 pepppermint candies onto a pack of lifesavers. A pack of gum is glued onto the top of the lifesavers. At the front on top of the gum is a starburst with a small Reese's cup glued on top and then a Hershey kiss on top of that to represent the smoke stack. They love this little keepsake. They put it in a bag to take home. Have fun. If you google Polar Express you will get the publisher's website w/ many activities and print outs.

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Polar Express
Posted by: 1stgradenew

We spend a whole day on Polar Express. The kids decorate a large box that they sit in all day(they are in their own little train chair). They get a train ticket the day before and bring it in the morning when they are in the PJs. We wait til the bell rings and act all silly like train conducts as they walk in. We read the story, and drink hot chocolate like the other classes. We also illustrate the story as a class to make a class book. I will think a little more b/c we do a TON of stuff!

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Did it yesterday for our last day
Posted by: Toni

After morning message, we watched the streaming video of the book through BookPals Storytime Online. It's read by Lou Diamond Phillips. I previously found a link that gave me a writing page in the shape of the bell. We wrote about giving the first gift of Christmas.

Then we watched the very beginning of the movie. I stopped it as the boy was to get on the train, them we had lunch and recess.

When lunch was over, I told them they needed tickets. I gave them a ticket & punched it after they sat down. When the movie had hot chocolate, so did we. We ate Milky Way bars, since the middle is snowy-white nougat (like in the book.) At the end of the movie, I gave them each a bell on a red ribbon & their gift from me- a fleece scarf. I told them they would need to be warm in case the Polar Express came for them on Christmas Eve. A few took their ticket with them in case they needed it later!:s)

This is the first year in a while that they all still believe in Santa. We really had a great day.

There are some great activities- mazes, crossword puzzles, coloring pages, etc. on the teacher resource guide through BookPals Storytime Online.

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Polar Express
Posted by: LaurieL

Recently someone mentioned that they enjoy doing a unit on the book, The Polar Express, and one day the children come to school wearing their pajamas. I would love to do this and need suggestions on lessons I can do that day that would cover math, science/social studies, art, etc.. One idea that I already have that is each child will have a bell and jingle it whenever they hear special words as I am reading the story. (Such as adjectives or other words that may be on our spelling list that week.) I would appreciate any ideas that you have done that work.

Also, if anyone has a letter that they sent home to the children's parents informing them of the Polar Express Pajama Day. Thanks for all your help!

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Polar Express Unit
Posted by: azfarkas

Hello! I am doing a Polar Express unit the week before our is what I have planned so far (all of which I got from
-I made large tickets on the computer and on the back I printed blank lines. Each child will set a reading goal and they must write the book title and date which it was read on the back of the ticket. Each time they complete a book I will punch thier ticket. This will be thier pass into the movie on friday.
-We are going to do a lesson on silimile and metaphor.
-There are several writing prompts such as "Pretend you are going on a magical journey, where would you go? What would you do? How would you get there? How would it change your life?"
-A craft we are making is to imagine you are looking out a window on the train and create what you see using construction paper we will then cover it with saran wrap and create a window. I will make a large train and put the windows on it and display in the hallway.
-After we read the book and watch the movie we will be making a Venn Digram comparing the two

If I come up with more, I will let you know! :)

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just an idea
Posted by: daisycup

Another teacher and I just had this conversation. We are going to have the kids come dressed in their pj's one day. They will also have a ticket that has to be punched in order to get in to see the movie...We are going to do some creative writing...If you could go on a midnight train ride where would you go? When we watch the movie we are going to have doughnuts and hot chocoalte. For a craft, we will be making trains out of grahm crackers, oreos and licorice. We are also going to make jingle bell necklaces....i hope this will help...

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5 Senses
Posted by: MalibuBarbie

Another idea is to incorporate the five senses. I have a train shaped booklet that I run off and the kids cut out. On each page the kids have written....

On the Polar Express I "saw".... I "smelled".... I "heard"... I "tasted".... I "felt"...


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No title
Posted by: TeacherLisa1st

Hi, we do lots of things for our Polar Express unit! We visit a transportation museum and ride a train. Then, we compare transportation on land, air and water (make a tree map with pictures).
We make "cube train patterns" in math, words that rhyme with train in phonics. On the day that we watch the movie we put on our pj's and arrange the desks like seats in a train. I hole punch their tickets when they come in the room. We do train activities all morning, a parent comes to read the book to the kids - while they are doing that, we sneak into the room and put a bell and some glitter on their desks!
Then in the afternoon we watch the movie and have hot chocolate with candy cane stirs. The kids LOVE it! If I can dig up some files of some of these activities, I will post them.

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Polar express
Posted by: Brenda

I have a Christmas Around the World unit that I use with the Polar Express. We start in North America and have the students go home and write some traditional decorations, traditions they do at their house. (they bring these back and we share them in class.)
We then are off on our trip and go to Mexico or Canada and read a story (example: Los Pasados) and create an art project to go with that country.
Then it's down to South America...I pick a country there and we learn about how they celebrate Christmas.
From there we go to Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and the Netherlands. (Each time I choose a country in the continent, read a story and create a project.) I try to pick a country such as Germany where we can talk about how the U.S. and our customs were based on these coutnries and our ancestors bringing their traditions here.
(I hope this makes sense!)
I then end the unit, by the children wearing their pajamas to school, I read the story and then we enjoy hot chocolate and cookies!

Let me know if you have any questions!

(This year I am taking my class to see the movie!


Polar Express
Posted by: Carrie

There is a literature themed book for Polar Express by Teacher Created Materials. It has really good ideas on how to incorporate the book.

Other ideas:
Last year, I copied a train engine pattern and had students write the title and author on it. We divided a piece of brown construction paper into four pieces to be train cars and glued on black wheels. Connect to become the train. We labeled the cars Characters, Setting, What was the problem, and How was it solved. It worked really well for comprehension skills.

We have also created an alternate ending to the book---starting where he realizes he has lost the bell. Illustrate a new book cover for it. Creative writing---if you were chosen by Santa, what would you ask for as the first gift of Christmas and why. Students can make this into a minibook. Another teacher had the idea to secretly place a silver bell in each child's backpack with a note attached saying "Believe" from Santa. We dressed in pajamas and drank hot chocolate to make it a Polar Express Day.

a little late
Posted by: eee418

I know it's a little late, but maybe for next year....

Last year, we had a door deorating contest that had to have math, reading and technology involved. I did the Polar Express. I took pictures of the kids and made a train with me driving it and the kids waving out the side of the windows (some made it look like they were on a rollercoaster and some made it look like they were trapped with their hands against the windows- quite hysterical!) We put the train going up the door with pictures they drew (vivid mental images) from the story all over the door. It came out really cute.

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Posted by: KarinT

I purchased large bells (craft section) at WalMart and thin red ribbon (fabric section) and I'll string them myself. Last year I was able to find bell orniments in the Christmas section of WalMart, but this year they didn't have any plain bells. Hope this helps.

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Posted by: triana00

The Dollar Tree stores have awesome silver bells! They are meant to be ornaments and come in a package of 9 bells. They have a snowflake cut out on the bottom and star cut outs on the top and they are about 1 inch round. I bought three packages of those and two packages of elastic cord at Michaels and I am SOOOO happy with the bells my kiddos will get. :)

Last year, I bought the smaller bells in packages from Michaels, but they weren't very jingly. :(

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