Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Polar Express Day

Whew! Today was a busy, but fun day for my firsties and me.  Today was Polar Express Day! Currently, we're half way through Spirit Week at my school.  The students are given a break from wearing their uniforms, and today was pajama day.  The perfect day for Polar Express Day! 

We started our morning with giggles and squeals as the first graders arrived in their pajamas.  Everybody, including the parents, had to giggle when they saw Ms. Holk in her bathrobe and slippers! First, we read the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  There is also an online read aloud available which is great to use on the smartboard.  After reading the book, I had the kids stack all of their chairs and move their desks to the sides of the room.  We then made lines of chairs in front of the smartboard, similar to train seats.  I then told students (who needed some settling down by this point!) that I was going to find quiet students to give tickets to, and once they had a ticket, they could board the train and choose their seat.  (Worked like a miracle to settle them quickly!☺)   Since we live in an urban area, and most of my students have ridden the train, they know the conductor punches the tickets, so before I even had my hole punch in my hand they were asking if I would be punching their tickets. ☺ Once they were all seated I began to punch their tickets.  Then I got the hot cocoa ready.  I brought my crockpot from home, and just picked up a gallon of water, a can of hot cocoa mix, some small styrofoam cups, and some cutesy Christmas marshmallows, oh and candy canes to help with the stirring.  This was pretty quick and easy, and a huge hit.  All teachers everywhere love to hear: "This is the best day ever!" from their students! ☺We watched the movie in two parts, finishing after lunch.  Those kids were so careful not to lose their round trip train tickets!

After the movie we did some follow up activities.  Here are some links to great freebies I found.  Mrs. Johnson, a fellow first grade teacher, put together a sweet little "Build-a-Train" activity.  Check out a cute little Polar Express word find in the shape of a train engine from  From Hougton Mifflin, a Polar Party kit; this is great--it includes a bunch of useful printables, I used the Polar Express train tickets from this site.  (I printed the tickets on cardstock.)  From Have Fun Teaching, I used the cute train coloring page.  From Free Printable Coloring Pages, I used the train engine coloring page .  

This was the first year I did a Polar Express party, I think I'll do one every year!  ☺