Polar Express is one of those stories which I love to tell and listen all the year long. But in Christmas time.. Oh, in Christmas time it’s something so amazing! It’s a magic and moving story, for both children and adults. Children had a lot of fun and we too!
While watching the movie, at the very end, when the boy tries very hard to ring the bell, saying “I believe, I believe, I believe!” and finally the bell rings; Lola, one of the girls, asked me if I had a twinkle in my eyes. (I tried my best not to cry, but I couldn’t help it. I’m so expressive!) “Twinkle was one of the words that we taught for Santa, and she used it in a very specific context. Those words, “twinkle in your eyes” are now hers.
The day before we gave children a secret envelope which they had to open with their parents just the night before the Polar Express day. That was an invitation to come in pajamas and slippers. I can’t really say how many times they said “It’s incredible!”- they were super excited and about us.. well, we went dressed as conductors in our dark jackets, wearing moustache and a whistle to invite everybody: “ALL AAABOARD!!”
LEAD- IN / FLASHCARDS
Before reading the story we asked children a couple of question to get them starting predicting, such as: “What is Polar Express?”, “Where is it going to?”, “Who’s inside? Adults, children?”,”Why are you in pajamas today?” We didn’t give any answer, they will have found out during the story whether they were right or not.
Then, we pre-taught the key words for the story understanding, using our Flashcards set, which you can download for free here.
THE BOOK – THE MOVIE
After having read the story, we asked them to see if their predictions were right or if not, why. Then, we watched the movie, pausing it every now and then to let them predict what was going to happen next.
Here is the Amazon link where you can purchase the book, and here the DVD, if you wish.
THE HOT CHOCOLATE
What better refreshment than the Hot Chocolate from the story to have a break and learn about measurement, weight, substances, solid/liquid status and all the vocabulary related to kitchen and cooking?
Imitating the train rails, we created a TPR (Total Physical Response) game with obstacles and challanges, sorting exercises and then timing them to spice it up a little. They had so much fun that they wanted to do it again and again. Here, see the whole experience.
OPEN-AIR GYMKANA GAME
This game has more or less the same rules as a treasure hunt, and we adapted it to the Polar Express. Children were provided with the first clue and a golden ticket. They had to deal with different challanges to win the letters which, in the end, will have formed a word in their tickets : “B-E-L-I-E-V-E”.
Children were delighted and giggled all the time because they were outside in their pajamas and us with our moustache walking and running around the neighbourhood, entering a cafeteria or a hair-dresser shop to find out the next clue. A couple of challanges were for example “Can you sing a Xmas Carol?” and “Can you describe how Santa looks like?” and they also had to make a beautiful Nativity, naming the different figures and designing the landscape.
Closing up the day is always very important to see what children liked most and what will be memorable in their minds.
We asked some questions e.g.: “What do you believe in?” “Why the bell didn’t ring for the adults?” “What did you liked most of today?”
Children reffered to the hot chocolate, playing the gymkana outised (in pajamas!) and train obstacle game.
If you have experienced other ideas, activities and games Polar Express related, text us below, leave a comment and share it with us!