Homemade Glue 
Ingredients:
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water

Directions:
Mix water, syrup and vinegar in saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. In small bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water. Add this mixture slowly to first mixture. Stir constantly. Let stand overnight before using.
 
Waterproof Glue 
Ingredients:
2 packets (1/2 ounce) unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons skimmed milk
few drops of wintergreen oil (optional)

Directions:
In a small bow. sprinkle gelatin over cold water and wait until softened. Pour milk into a pot and bring to a boil. Pour into softened gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add wintergreen oil (acts as a preservative) if you would like to keep it for longer than a day.
This is a good glue when you need to glue for objects other than paper.
 
Homemade Paste 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup flour
cold water

Directions:
Add flour to a sauce pan. Add cold water until a thick cream forms. Simmer on stove for 5 minutes.
Warning:This paste takes a long time to dry.
 
Library Paste 
Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. alum
4 cups water
30 drops of oil of cloves

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in saucepan and cook until clear and thick. Remove from heat and add drops of oil of cloves.
 
Clear Library Paste
Ingredients:
3/4 cup rice flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup cold water
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon oil of wintergreen

Directions:
Mix rice flour, sugar, and cold water in a pan until smooth. Add boiling water and bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add oil of wintergreen.

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Papier Mache Paste #1
Ingredients:
1 cup water
1/4 cup flour
5 cups lightly boiling water

Directions:
Mix flour into the water until mixture is thin and runny, stir into boiling water. Gently boil and stir for 3 minutes. Cool before using.
 
Papier Mache Paste #2
Ingredients:
one part flour
one part water

Directions:
Mix flour and water in a bowl until you get a smooth consistency. Use.
 
Wheat Flour Papier Mache Paste
Ingredients:
1/2 cup nonrising wheat flour
1/4 cup powdered resin glue
1/2 cup warm water
1-1/2 cups hot water
4 drops oil of wintergreen

Directions:
Mix the flour and resin glue in a saucepan. Slowly pour in the warm water. Then add the hot water and stir vigorously. Cook over low heat stirring until paste is smooth,thick and clear. Should be used in 2-3 days.
 
Dryer Lint Papier Mache Paste
Ingredients:
3 cups lint from your dryer
2 cups water
2/3 cup wheat flour
3 drops oil of wintergreen
newspaper

Directions:
Put lint and water in a large saucepan. Get all of the lint wet. Add flour and stir constantly so lumps won’t form. Add oil of wintergreen. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly,until mixture holds together and forms peaks. Pour out onto several thicknesses of newspaper to cool.

Modeling Clay
Ingredients:
1 c. cornstarch
1 ½ c. water
16 ounces baking soda

Directions:
Combine cornstarch and baking soda together in large saucepan. Stir in water and cook over low heat until the mixture becomes thick and forms a ball. Remove from heat and cool. Knead the dough on a countertop dusted with cornstarch until smooth.

Air Dry Clay
Ingredients:
3 c. flour
1 c. salt
½ c. white glue
1 c. water
1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions:
Mix together until well blended. Mold into shapes or roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Let dry overnight before painting.

Baking Clay #1 
Ingredients:
1 part salt
2 parts flour
1 part water

Directions:
Mix and knead all the ingredients for about 2 minutes. Mold the clay into creations. Place them on a foil-covered cookie sheet, prick larger areas with a fork. Bake at 275 degrees Farenheit (140 degrees Celcius) for about 1 hour or until golden and hard. Cool and paint. Preserve by spraying with clear varnish.
 
Baking Clay #2 
Ingredients:
2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups cold water
2 tbs. cooking oil

Directions:
Mix and knead all the ingredients for about 2 minutes. Mold the clay into creations. Place them on a foil-covered cookie sheet, prick larger areas with a fork. Bake at 300 degrees Farenheit (150 degrees Celcius) for about 1 hour or until golden and hard. Cool and paint. Preserve by spraying with clear varnish.
 
Cornstarch Clay
Ingredients:
1 cup cornstarch
1-1/4 cups cold water
2 cups baking soda
Food coloring

Directions:
Mix all ingredients except paint in saucepan over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring constantly until thick (like mashed potatoes). Add food coloring to mixture. Remove from heat, turn out onto a plate and cover with a damp cloth until cool. Knead like dough. Store in airtight container.
 
Bread Dough Clay
Ingredients:
6 pieces of day-old, white bread
3 Teaspoons white glue
2 Teaspoons Water
parchment Paper

Directions:
Remove crusts from bread, and cut into small pieces. In a large mixing bowl, add water and glue to the bread pieces. Mix with your hands until a dough forms. When it’s ready, the mixture should be the consistency of pie dough. Roll out or pat out until flat on parchment paper. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and set on a drying rack or roll into beads.
 
Sand Clay
Ingredients:
1 cup clean sand
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. alum (find in spice section of your grocery store)
1/2 cup water

Directions:
Pour the sand into an old cooking pot. Add cornstarch, water and alum. Stir. Place on stove and cook at medium heat. Stir constantly. As it gets warm it begins to liquefy. In 2-3 minutes it will get thicker. As it stiffens and clumps like stiff cookie dough, remove from the heat and keep stirring for a few more seconds as it cools down. Put it onto a cutting board or tough surface, spread it slightly for further cooling. When comfortable to touch begin creating.
 
Apple Cinammon Clay
Ingredients:
1 part cinnamon
1 part store bought applesauce

Directions:
Stir together cinnamon and applesauce with a spoon until the dough becomes stiff, then use your hands to create a ball of dough. Place the ball of dough on a sheet of waxed paper, flatten slightly with your fingers. Place a second sheet of waxed paper over the top of the dough and roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Use cookie cutters or your own template shapes. Air dry creations on a waxed paper-covered cookie sheet or a cooling rack for at least 24 hours until they are completely hard. Paint.
 
Coffee Clay 
Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1/4 cup instant coffee
1-1/2 c warm water

Directions:
Dissolve the coffee in the warm water. In another bowl, mix the flour and the salt. Make a hole in this and add 1 cup of the coffee water into it. Mix with a fork or hands until smooth. Add more coffee water if needed. Form into creations and bake in 300 degree oven for 1 hour or until hard.
 
Sawdust Clay
  (for use by Adult/Teacher)
Ingredients:
1 cup fine sawdust
food coloring
old newspaper
Shellac or Varnish
1 cup thin paste

Directions:
If you would liike the clay to be coloured dye the sawdust with food colouring, drain and spread it on newspaper to dry before using. Mix sawdust and paste to a thick doughlike consistency. Knead until thoroughly mixed. Add more paste if necessary.
Can dry creations in air, or in a 200 degree oven for 1 to 2 hours.
 
Crepe Paper Clay
Ingredients:
1 cup tiny pieces of crepe paper (one colour)
1 cup warm water
1/2 to 2/3 cup non-self rising wheat flour

Directions:
Place tiny pieces of crepe paper into a bowl and pour the warm water over it. Let sit for several hours until soft and pliable. Pour off excess water. Add 1/2 cup of flour and stir until mixed thoroughly. Pour out onto a floured surface and knead. Add enough flour to make a piecurstlike dough.
This clay will adhere to glass and it can also be used to sculpt over wire.
 
Rose Petal Clay
Ingredients:
1/3 cup non-self rising wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons water
3 cups of rose petals

Directions:
Mix flour, salt, and water to make a stiff dough. Cut rose petals into tiny pieces and then crush by rolling them between your palms. Knead enough petals to the dough without making it crumbly.
 
Mock Marble (casting compound)
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons white glue
1/2 cup water
plaster of Paris
tempera paint

Directions:
Mix glue and water. Stir in enough plaster of Paris until the mixture looks like thick frosting. Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl. Pour a thick layer of tempera paint on top of the mixture. Fold in the color to make marblle streaks. Don’t blend. Pour the mixture into a mold.

No-cook Playdough
Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 Tbs. cooking oil
1 to 1 1/2 cups cold water
food coloring

Directions:
Mix flour, salt, oil. Add food coloring to water. Gradually add water to flour mixture. Knead. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
 
Playdough (cooked)
Ingredients:
4 cups water
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 Tbs. cooking oil
4 Tsp. cream of tartar
food coloring

Directions:
Combine ingredients. Cook in electric skillets, stirring constantly, until most of the moisture is absorbed. If you like you can knead in glitter for sparkly playdough when the dough cools. Store in a covered container.
(does not need to be refrigerated)
 
Oatmeal Playdough
Ingredients:
1 part flour
1 part water
2 parts oatmeal

Directions:
Mix all ingredients until smooth. Knead.
(non-edible)
 
Kool-Aid Playdough
Ingredients:
1/2 cup salt
2 cups water
2 tbsps. salad oil
2 cups flour
2 tbsps. alum
Kool-Aid for colour

Directions:
Boil salt in water until salt is dissolved. Add Koolaid for color. Add salad oil, flour and alum. Knead until smooth. Keeps for two months or longer.
 
Salt Playdough 
Ingredients:
1 cup salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup flour
Directions:
Mix ingredients and cook over medium heat. Remove from heat when thick and rubbery. As mixturecools, knead in enough flour to make a workable dough.
 
Peanut Butter Playdough
Ingredients:
18 oz. peanut butter
6 tbsps. honey
Non-fat dry milk
Cocoa for flavor

Directions:
Mix all ingredients, adding enough dry milk to give make dough workable.
(edible)

Giant Bubble
Ingredients:
6 cups water
3/4 cup corn syrup
2 cups dishwashing liquid

Directions:
Mix together and let sit 4 hours before using.
 

Giant Bubbles #2

Ingredients:
1 C. Warm Water
1/4 C. Blue Dishwashing Liquid >LI>1 Tsp. Salt

Directions:
Combine all ingredients. Mix well until salt dissolves. Use.

Bubbles #1 
Ingredients:
1 cup of water
2 Tbs.liquid detergent
1 Tbs. glycerine
1/2 tsp. sugar

Directions:
Mix together and use.


Bubbles #2
 
Ingredients:
1/2 C. Water
1/2 C. Liquid Detergent
1 Tbl. Cooking Oil

Directions:
Mix together and use.

Colourful Bubbles
Ingredients:
1 cup granulated soap or soap powder
1 quart warm water
liquid food coloring

Directions:
Dissolve soap in warm water. Stir in food coloring. Use.

Corn Starch Finger Paint #1
Ingredients:
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup cold water
1 package unflavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
food coloring or poster paint
Directions:
In saucepan, mix cornstarch with 3/4 cup cold water to a smooth paste. Soak gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Set aside. Pour boiling water slowly over cornstarch mixture, stirring. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and clears. Remove. Stir in gelatin. Cool and divide into separate small screw top jars. Add color. Refrigerate to store.
Corn Starch Finger Paint #2
Ingredients:
3 tbsps. sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups cold water
Food coloring
Soap flakes or liquid dishwashing soap
Directions:
Mix sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan over low heat. Add cold water and stir until mixture is thick. Remove from heat. Divide into four or five portions (in muffin tins or cups). Add a drop or two of food coloring to each portion and a pinch of soap flakes or soap. Stir and let cool. Store in airtight container.
 

Pudding Finger Paint
Ingredients:
Instant Vanilla Pudding
Food Coloring
Directions:
Mix pudding according to directions. To colour, add food coloring.
 

Jello Finger Paint

Ingredients:
any kind of flavored jello
boiling water
Directions:
Mix jello into boiling water until it is a good consistency for fingerpaint.
Let cool before using paints. 
 

Kool-Aid Finger Paint

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 packs unsweetened Kool-Aid
1/2 cup salt
3 cups boiling water
3 tbs. oil
Directions:
In a bowl mix together flour, Kool-Aid, and salt. Add boiling water and oil. Mix ingredients until smooth.
 

Flour Finger Paint

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
2 tbsp salt
1 1/4 cup hot water
1 1/2 cup cold water
Food coloring or tempera paint
Directions:
Put flour and salt in a saucepan and add cold water. Beat with a whisk or rotary beater until smooth. Add hot water and boil until mixture is thick. Beat until smooth. Keep in refrigerator and add food coloring as needed.

Paint
Ingredients:
1 c. liquid starch
6 c. water
½ c. soap powder
Food coloring

Directions:
Dissolve soap powder in water, add starch and food coloring.
 
Poster Paint 
Ingredients:
1/4 cup flour
1 cup water
3 tbsps. Powdered tempera paint
2 tbsps. Water
1/2 tsp. liquid starch or liquid detergent
Directions:
Pour flour into saucepan. Slowly add 1 cup water until mixture is smooth. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Cool. Add 1/4 cup flour paste into small jar or plastic container. Add tempera paint and water for each color. For opaque finish add liquid starch. For glossy finish add liquid detergent.
 
Sparkly Poster Paint
Ingredients:
1/2 cup liquid starch
1/2 cup soap powder
5/8 cup water
food colouring or powdered tempera paint (variable amount)
glitter
Directions:
Beat together until the consistency of whipped potatoes. Add more water if necessary. 
Directions:
Stir together starch and cold cream until well-blended. Add water and stir. Add food coloring. Use a small brush to apply on face. Remove with soap and water.
 
Frosty Paint 
Ingredients:
1 cup powdered tempera paint
2 tbsps. wallpaper paste
1/4 to 1/2 cup liquid laundry starch
Directions:
Mix tempera paint with wallpaper paste. Add starch, mixing until thick enough to spread.
 
Powdered Milk Paint
Ingredients:
1 part powdered nonfat milk
1 part cup water
powdered tempera
Directions:
Mix milk and water until milk is dissolved. Separate mixture into different containers. Add in different coloured powdered tempera and mix.
This paint dries quickly to a glossy opaque finish and does not dust, chip or come off on your hands.
 
Egg Yolk Paint (Use this paint to decorate baked cookies)
Ingredients:
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. water
Food coloring
Directions:
Use this paint to decorate baked cookies.
Mix egg yolk with water and lots of food coloring. Use a paint brush to paint on baked cookies. Return cookies to oven until egg has solidified.
 

Pasta Dye 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
Food coloring
Directions:
Mix alcohol and food coloring in bowl. Add small amounts of any type of pasta to liquid and gently stir. Dry on newspapers covered with wax paper.
 
Dye for Easter Eggs
Ingredients:
1/4 tsp. food coloring
3/4 cup hot water
1 tbsp. vinegar
 

Directions:
Measure liquids into a bowl. Separate into small bowls. Add food coloring to each mixture. Dye eggs by soaking them in the mixture.
 

Transfer Ink (for use by Adult/Teacher)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons soap powder, like Ivory Snow (not detergent) or scrapings from a bar of soap
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon turpentine

Directions:
Dissolve soap powder in hot water. Add turpentine. Use when cool.
To use, dip a brush into the ink and brush over the picture to be transferred, wait about ten seconds then place a piece of paper over the picture and rub the back of it with a spoon. The picture will be transferred to the paper. If the ink solidifies in its container, set the bottle in a pan of warm water to melt, and then shake well before using.
 
Directions:
Mix dye with alcohol until it resembles thin cream. Add glycerin and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Pour ink over used up stamp pad. To make a stamp pad, cut foam rubber to fit the bottom of a small plastic box, and then pour the ink over the stamp pad. Keep the box tightly covered when not in use.
 
Block Printing Ink
Ingredients:
3 tablespoon of powdered tempera
1 tablespoon clear varnish
Palette knife
Sheet of glass
Brayer
Directions:
Thoroughly mix tempera paint and varnish with a palette knife on a glass surface. Roll brayer back and forth until the mixture is tacky and the brayer is evenly coated.
To use, after brayer is evenly coated, Press a wooden or linoleum block on paper and press it evenly with all your weight…
 
Block Printing Ink for Fabric (for use by Adult/Teacher)
Ingredients:
5 tablespoons turpentine
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon wintergreen oil
1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid
8 ounce bottle
Oil paint pigments
Palette knife
Sheet of glass
Brayer
Carved wood or linoleum block
Fabric
Hot iron
Directions:
Pour the first 4 ingredients into a bottle and shake well. Add oil paint pigments until you get a thick creamy consistency. Smooth with a palette knife on sheet of glass. Roll brayer back and forth until mixture is tacky and the brayer is evenly coated.

To use, roll the brayer over the carved block. Press the block onto fabric and press evenly with all your weight. Lift the block from the fabric and place a damp cloth over the design. Press the cloth with a hot iron. The designed fabric can be washed in warm water with a mild soap.

 

Rubber Stamp Ink (waterproof)
Ingredients:
powdered clothes dye
1/4 teaspoon alcohol
5 tablespoon glycerin

Face Paint 
Ingredients:
1 tsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. water
1/2 tsp. cold cream
Food coloring


 “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburgh

If you do not have the book you and your child can listen to the book read by Lou Diamond Phillips.  At http://storylineonline.net/ 
(Just click on the left under more stories and look for Polar Express)

On Christmas Eve a boy is taken on a mysterious train to the North Pole. The trip to the pole is a glorious experience through dark forests and high mountains. When he arrives, Santa chooses him to be the child that receives the first gift of Christmas. He asks for an receives one bell from the harness of the reindeer. It is with great sadness that he discovers he has lost the bell on the way home. At home he finds the bell again, and learns a special secret about it.

Book Summary:

Other subjects to cover in conjunction with the story: trains, winter weather, and the North Pole. Here’s another book to read online and after reading. there are links to make your own book.

A Winter Train Ride

http://www.mrsmcgowan.com/winter/train_start.htm

Books
“The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburgh

More terrific Train Stories:
“Freight Train” by Donald Crews
“William and Night Train” by Mij Kelly
“Two Little Trains” by Margaret Wise Brown
“All Abroad Trains” by  Deborah Harding
“Train to Somewhere” by Eve Bunting
“The Little Engine That Could” by

Train Books/Stories That Rhyme
(great rhythm & rhyme for building phonemic awareness)
“Train Song” by Diane Siebert
“I love Trains” by Philemon Sturges
“Clickety Clack” by Robert Spense
“The Caboose that got Loose” by Bill Peet
   

INTERNET RESOURCES
Polar Express Resources for Teachers and Librarians 
Little Giraffes Polar Express Theme
Education World’s Taking the Polar Express to Learning
All Aboard the Virtual Vine Express (Polar Express)
Blanchard Elementary’s Polar Express Resources
All Aboard the Polar Express with Ms. Jacoby’s Classroom
Polar Express Weblinks and more
Polar Express Day at Mrs. Pearce’s Classroom

PRINTABLES 
Ride the Polar Express (lots of printables for your theme)
Winter Train Ride Book (PDF file) by Mrs. McGowan
Polar Express Printables, games, coloring sheets, and more
Polar Express Story Sequencing Strips (PDF file)
The Official Chris Van Allsburg’s site

GROUP DISCUSSIONS
1. Ask children to imagine their own magical midnight train ride and talk about what they see on their journey and what their final destination looks like.GROUP ACTIVITIES
 1. Read book as a Christmas present to group. Set a scene for a train ride and simulate a ride to the North Pole. Set up pairs of small chairs in two parallel rows with a center aisle for the imaginary train ride. In each child’s chair place a warm cup of hot cocoa and softly play winter music as the group boards the train. When everyone has had his or her ticket checked and is settled, read the book aloud as you ride along. Encourage the students to tell you of the sights they see as they ride along. Ring your bell to add an extra dose of magic to the part of the book that talks of the bell.

2. Talk about what type of clothing you would wear if you were  going to the North Pole.

3. Talk  about what trains carry in their train cars.   

 

Variation: Have your children wear or bring their pajamas for the day (optional).  Gather around on the carpet and read the story The Polar Express  to your class.   When finished with the story, have a jingle bell  necklace strung on a thin piece of Christmas ribbon and prepared  to give each child.  Ask the children to ring their bells together to see if they truly “believe” and can hear the Christmas bells.  Have the children return to their seats to enjoy a cup of Hot Chocolate and a train shaped sugar cookie.

2. Use empty boxes, blocks, chairs, etc. make an imaginary train.

3. Plan a field trip to a local train station or watch a video on a train trip.

4. Using the spatter paint technique, make pictures that look like it is snowing.

5. Make train cars out of shoe boxes and lots of other “stuff.” Take cardboard boxes (1/2) and cut a hole out of the top (enough to put it over the child’s head – resting on their shoulders). Have the kids paint and decorate them. You can even put black construction paper wheels on the side, then put crape paper to sting them together. The kids love to “BE” trains. We sing songs and walk thru the neighborhood.

Sources: http://www.easyfunschool.com/article1919.html
http://www.childfun.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=142
http://www.kinderthemes.com/thepolarexpress.html

6. Circle Time Activity:  Have the children bring one special gift given to them.  Students can share their item with the group and tell who gave them the gift and why their gift is so special to them.

GAMES
1.Toy~Train Counting Game
Make 12 large rectangle shaped train cars.  To make  each car fold a large piece of black construction paper in half.  Stape or glue up the sides leaving the top open.  Use magnets on the back (or tape) and tape the cars low on the chalkboard or wall so that students can easily reach them. . Number the cars 1-12.  

Give each child a bell. Play holiday songs to which they can ring the bells
Play a new version of Simon Says- “Conductor Says”

2. Toy Sorting and Counting
From magazines cut various pictures of toys.  Glue each set of pictures on different piece of paper.  (Example  1 board game,  2 dolls,  3 race cars, etc.) 

3. Music Game 
Give each child a bell. Play holiday songs to which they can ring the bells

4. Conductor Says
Play a new version of Simon Says- “Conductor Says”For more games, visit the following link
http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/thepolarexpress/fungames.shtm

 

for FINGERPLAYS AND SONGS, visit
KinderKorner’s The Polar Express

MUSIC AND MOVEMENT
1.  Give each child a bell. Play holiday songs to which they can ring the bells.

2.  Break the kids into groups of four. Give each group a song and have them come up with a way to accompany it with their bells.

LANGUAGE ARTS
Story Sequencing
Have a printout of a train with engine, cars, and caboose. Then have sections from the book in drawings and the students put the pictures in sequential order as they think the story will proceed. Then during the reading, the students could check their train and see if their ideas of order were correct. 
Link for printout of train (have children glue small drawings over the train cars.)
http://www.marcias-lesson-links.com/Train%20Cars.pdf

Ride the Wish Train
Art/Writing:  Give students a half sheet of lined paper.  Have students write or dictate to you one “wish” for Christmas.  Begin the sentence I wish _____________________this Christmas.  Glue each paper to a half sheet of black construction paper.  Staple another half sheet of paper on top to make a rectangle shaped book.  Write each student’s name on their black cover using a gold glitter pen.  Have children trace two circle wheels for their train car.  Hang these in the hall with a train engine at the beginning and a caboose filled with pictures of toys or a picture of Santa.  Use Christmas yarn to link the cars together.  The caption “Christmas Wishes” or “Ride the Kindergarten Wish Train” could be used above the train.
Source: http://www.kinderthemes.com/thepolarexpress.html

Pre-Reading/Writing Connections
Show the cover of the book. Ask students to brain storm to guess what the book might be about.2. Show the students a silver bell necklace you made and place it around your neck. Tell the students they will find out how important this one little bell is in the story. Tell them before they begin, we are going to have hot cocoa to drink as we read the story. Fix hot cocoa. (Students will realize they are drinking hot cocoa as the children in the story are.)

Begin reading the story. When the young boy is asked what he would like for the first gift of Christmas stop reading. Have the students speculate and guess what they think he may ask to receive. Then finish the book. After you finish, ask students why his friend could not hear the bell? Discuss why it is important for us to believe in others.

My Train Trip/Wish book

Make a book to go with the story about the students train trip. Draw pictures to go with the story.

Bring in old toy catalogues or magazines. Have the students make a wish book for their own. They could also cut out a picture of what they would wish for to go with the story they drew.

FLANNEL BOARD / DIMENSIONAL STORY
Material:

sleigh bell (wrapped in small box)
drawing supplies
Introduction Activity:
Show the small gift wrapped box (containing the bell) to the class. Ask them to speculate what’s inside. After everyone has had the opportunity to guess, select a child to open the box and show its contents. Tell the children that they will hear a story about a boy’s exciting nightime adventure and the very special gift he receives.


Body:
Read the story “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg.
Pause to discuss the illustrations (How do they make you feel?)Also, pause to discuss things that children might see on the way to the North Pole, as well as, what they might see when they arrive.At the end of the story, review the happenings of the boys very special evening.


Conclusion Activity :
Children draw pictures of what they might be seen on the way to or at the North Pole, on cloud shaped pieces of paper. To use for a Flannel board display,
make a Polar Exprees train and use the cloud shaped pictues as the puffs of smoke coming from the engine.

 

Note: Always end the story with the sentence, “It made the most beautiful sound my sister and I had ever heard.” It seems a more appropriate ending for children of this age.

COGNITIVE / MANIPULATIVE / SENSORY ACTIVITIES

Cognition-
1.
Pretend to move with the train as it runs on the tracks. As the train goes uphill, lean back and chug slowly. As it goes downhill, lean forward and chug slowly. On the curvy track, lean left or right. On the bouncy track, bounce up and down and make the chug-g-g bounce too.

2. Find pictures of different kinds of trains and compare them to the illustrations in the book. Which one is most like the Polar Express? Which one is least like the Polar Express?

Manipulative- 
1. Make Trains using different shapes of constructiin paper such as circle, square, recangle, triangle, etc. Have children glue onto large sheet of paper.
2. Have the children lace train shape lacing cards.

Sensory-
Have trays of different types of holiday cookies and serve them. Ask children what they taste? Chocolate? Cinnamon?

SCIENCE
Show examples of different types of bells. Discuss pitch. Ring different size bells to see how size and shape can change sound.  In groups, arrange bells from highest to lowest pitch.

MATH
Pattern Block Trains

Have children create trains from pattern blocks (they’ll need to stack rectangles, etc.,  to make the train cars proportionally large enough).  After they have completed their train, have them rebuild it by gluing construction paper pattern block shapes to a black background.

Toy Train Counting Game
1. Make 12 large rectangle shaped train cars.  To make  each car fold a large piece of black construction paper in half.  Stape or glue up the sides leaving the top open.  Use magnets on the back (or tape) and tape the cars low on the chalkboard or wall so that students can easily reach them.
Source:
http://www.kinderthemes.com/thepolarexpress.html

2. Number the cars 1-12. 

3.  Make 12 individual, number cards and place in a stocking.

4.   From magazines cut various pictures of toys.  Glue each set of pictures on different piece of paper. 
  (Example  1 board game,  2 dolls,  3 race cars, etc.)  Laminate for durability.

5. Have students draw a number card from the stocking and match it to the correct car.  Line up the cars in order.  When all of the cars are in order, have children take turns drawing a toy card from the stocking, counting the set  and matching it to the correct car and put them in the corresponding train car pocket.

6.  Keep this display set up for the week for a center activity.

~More Fun~  Use the toy cards in the train cars to sing a new version of The 12 Days Of Christmas!

Example: 
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
One baby doll and a choo choo train just for me!

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Two race cars, one baby doll and a choo choo train just for me!  Etc.

ART AND CRAFTS
Construction Paper Trains

Students will construct their own trains from uncut construction paper, using TLC-style cutting techniques.  Provide cotton balls to be stretched out and glued to background paper for steam from the boiler.

Reindeer Ornament Craft
Used 3 craft sticks to form a triangular reindeer head.  Glue on a large red pompom nose and two googly eyes.  As a final touch, twist brown pipe cleaners  around the top stick to form antlers.  Yarn can be added to make an ornament.


Winter Train

Make an outline of a train traced with pencil on the construction paper. Color in with chalk and then rub the chalk in one direction to look like the train is speeding and the snow was blowing past. Finally, make snowflakes by dipping fingers and Q-tips in white tempera paint.  

Source: http://www.littlegiraffes.com/polarexpress.html

Snow Scenes
There are many ways to create a snowy scene- here are a few examples: Torn white tissues pieces glued to dark blue or black paper, salt sprinkled over white paint, use Q-tips dipped in paint to create a snowy scene…

CENTERS / DRAMATIC PLAY
Build a village with mountains and tunnels, etc. with blocks

RECIPES AND COOKING
Twinkie Trains
Take one twinkie and 6 vanilla wafers. Use those decorator gels in the tubes(or you can use cream cheese to glue the wheels on) and have the kids decorate the twinkies then “glue” the wheels on the sides. Use a marshmallow for the smoke stack.
 
Marshmallow Trains

Use pretzel sticks to hook the “cars” together and use peanut butter to glue cheerios on as wheels and other features.

SNACKS
Hot Chocolate with mini marshmallows.
Graham Cracker Trains ~ make these flat on a paper plate.
Hostess Twinkie® Trains ~ attach cookie wheels with frosting or cream cheese
Warm Cocoa with Candy Cane stirrers, topped with marshmallows