Saturday, December 15, 2012

Polar Express {math & literacy}

Just in time to raise more money for Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, my Christmas Train Unit is finished!
Here are a few other fun a freebie for you at the end.  ;)

I mean, obviously.  You can't go on the Polar Express without wearing your pajamas...and you have to be asleep before the train will come...
Once the train comes {that would be me...wearing a conductor hat...making chugga chugga noises...} they all jump up and get on the train - the chairs pre set-up in 2 lines.
Afterward, have your students decorate the little boy's pajamas to look like their own then they can list adjectives to describe them.
{hot chocolate}
Hot chocolate, hot cocoa, whatever you call's delicious and a MUST for Polar Express day.
I take out all of the marshmallows and put them in a separate cup because some kids don't want them.  When they bring out the hot chocolate in the movie, I pass it out, dancing to the hot-hot-hot-hot chocolate song {because how could you not?!} then go back through with the marshmallow cup for anyone who wants some "Christmas Magic" in their cocoa.
You may not want them to count their marshmallows while they're drinking their cocoa {he got more than me!} but you'll love for them to do some counting with these hot chocolate pages.

Of course, you have to have a ticket to ride the Polar Express or you're kicked off the train.  When the conductor comes through to punch them, I grab my trusty hole punch and go through the train asking for tickets.  There is always slight panic when the kids realize they don't have them but it doesn't take long for one or two quick ones to start looking...and they find them under their chairs.  I definitely don't punch fancy letters in their tickets but throw in a little flair and your kids will think you're just as good as Tom Hanks.  ;)

I've passed out the bells differently in different years.  Sometimes I hang them outside so they're nice and cold "from the North Pole."  Sometimes I hide them in the room and once the kids are asleep {ie giggling and fake snoring on the carpet} I bring them out and start ringing them, exclaiming with joy that they must believe because they can hear them ringing.  ;)  I think my favorite way is to hide them around the room before school starts and let them go on a hunt after the movie is over.

Work on short vowels and the -ing sound with these bells once they're all found.
{snow paint}
For a fun train follow-up, have your students write about whether or not they'd ride the Polar Express.  They can use their reasoning skills to explain their choice.
Then display their writing with a night train project.  Using Crayola construction paper crayons {a must-have} let your students draw a train driving through the night on black construction paper.

While they're coloring, mix shaving cream with elmer's glue to get snow paint.  Cheap barbasol shaving cream works the best.  Just put some in the cup, drop in a little glue and stir.  If it's not sticky enough you can add more glue, but you want it to stay nice and fluffy so don't pour in too much.  And a little snow paint goes a long way!

They put it on their paper wherever they want snow and when it dries, it stays fluffy!

Here's your freebie!  Your kids can make up their own secret ingredient then have fun decorating their mug creatively.

Remember, from now through the end of the year, 100% of my proceeds from my Teachers Pay Teachers store will be going to Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut to help them heal after what they've been through.  And just in case you've seen pictures being passed around to wear the Sandy Hook school colors on Monday in remembrance, their school colors are green and white.  Somehow it's being passed around as yellow & blue but their school website shows their colors as green and white in case you want to participate!

*The Sandy Hook donation has now ended* 


  1. Hi, I can't find this unit on TPT. Do you still have it available?

    1. I sure do Jenae! Click the top picture (with the green background) and it'll take you right to it. Or you can search for "Christmas Train to the North Pole" on TpT. Let me know if you still can't find it! :)


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