As December winds down, many schools celebrate with a Polar Express day. In the past, my class has celebrated by coming to school in our pajamas (these are my FAVORITE days), reading the book, sipping on some hot chocolate, and watching the movie. The younger students parade around the school and ring bells as my third graders rush to the hall to watch them.
Now, by the time these kiddos get to me, they have probably experienced three Polar Express days in the past. I always struggled with adding a little something new and exciting, while still getting in that extra little bit of instruction right before we let out for winter break.
Last year, I created a Polar Express Unit – mostly because I knew that if I created something, I would be positive that the students didn’t complete it in previous years. My goal was to also make reading the book and the day more meaningful educationally.
This unit contains 15 pages of literature activities that can be used with the book and the movie. It also works well if you decide you only want to read the book.
The following included activities work best for 2nd-4th grade:
– Story Elements
– Asking Questions
– Physical Characteristics and Character Traits
– Sequence of Events
– Making Connections
– Word search
– Book and Movie Venn Diagram
– Similes and Metaphors
– Fact or Opinion
– Letter to Santa (writing)– My Polar Express Experience (writing)
– The First Gift (writing)
I definitely cannot complete all these activities in one day. The four pages that I took pictures of are the activities I usually begin with and have others on stand-by in the event I have more time.
One piece of advice I have is that if students are working independently, having multiple copies of the book is useful. Between my copies and those that I borrowed from various libraries, I was able to put students in groups of 3 or 4 so that they are able to look back in the text to help them answer questions and find evidence.