10 Activities for The Polar Express — Creatively Teaching First (2024)

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is my absolute favorite Christmas story to read in the classroom and at home. It is such a magical story where a little boy takes a ride aboard the Polar Express to the North Pole. This is a story for all who believe in the spirit of Christmas!

I can’t wait to share 10 Polar Express activities with you today that I use in my classroom and go right along with this magical story!

I use these Polar Express activities as stations. My class and I have so much fun spending the day reading the story, completing these 10 activities, watching the movie, and enjoying a snack. These activities can be done on one day or spread throughout a week or month. We complete these activities on the last day before break. I use these in place of our traditional reading and math stations. This way, it is nothing new and my students already know how to rotate to different stations. These activities can easily be done whole group or individual work as well! The stations/activities are engaging, fun, and full of literacy, math, and STEM skills.

Prior to our Polar Express day, I send a note home to parents inviting my students to wear their pajamas to school. On the last day before winter break, we have our magical Polar Express day! Students will start out by receiving their very own Polar Express train ticket. I like to have these waiting on their desk when they arrive. On our projector screen, I share an image of the Polar Express. The kids are so excited when they walk in!

The Polar Express Activity #7 - The Polar Express Round Trip Ticket

Students will create their very own ticket for the Polar Express. Students will write or draw a picture of what word would be on their Polar Express ticket. There are 2 differentiated options included!

The Polar Express Activity #8 - A Cup of Hot Cocoa Word Problems

With this Polar Express activity, students will read and solve math word problems on cups of cocoa. A cup of hot cocoa is not complete without marshmallows! Once each problem is solved, students will glue a marshmallow on each cup. This is a fun little incentive for solving the problem. There are two differentiated options included!

The Polar Express Activity #9 - Snow Spelling

The Polar Express goes through snowy mountains on the way to the North Pole. My students LOVE this Polar Express activity! Students will write their spelling words or sight words in the snow. You could use shaving cream, salt, etc. to be pretend snow. I like to use shaving cream because it is easy to wash off and it cleans the table too :)

The Polar Express Activity #10 - The Polar Express Train

This activity was quick and easy to prep! I printed the train cards, laminated, and cut apart. The I put a colored different colored dot on the back of each train set using a permanent marker. This makes it easy to identify a missing train to the correct set. I put each train set in a plastic bag.

Each train car has a number on it. Students put their train together by ordering the numbers from least to greatest!

Hot Cocoa and Cookie Decorating

After we complete the stations/activities, it is time to watch the movie with hot cocoa and a decorated cookie! I find it easiest way to do this is to use a crock pot. However, one year I was so tired (and pregnant) and it was just too much work to carry in a crock pot to school. Instead, we drank chocolate milk instead and the kids were just as excited with that!

I bought premade cookie dough that was already cut into shapes (best thing ever) and I just baked these the night before. I brought in the cookies and had a few parents donate supplies to decorate. The students enjoyed their hot cocoa and cookies while watching the movie. It was a great way to end the magical day!

I also have some EXCITING NEWS! These Polar Express read aloud activities are now DIGITAL! There are 10 digital activities ready to go on Google Slides. First, students will listen to the Polar Express read aloud by watching a video directly on the Google Slides. Students will be able to type, drag, and drop while completing the 10 engaging activities!

10 Activities for The Polar Express — Creatively Teaching First (2024)
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