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Story Activities for

The Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg

One of the most popular books read in American early childhood classrooms in December is The Polar Express.  The award-winning illustrations and magical story of believing delights readers of all ages. This story tells the tale of a boy who rides the Polar Express train to the North Pole and receives the first gift of Christmas. Herea re some story activities to use with The Polar Express. 



This book contains rich vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to young readers. Review vocabulary prior to reading. 


Students can hunt for matching vocabulary words in the story. Place the words on the word wall for students to reference in their writing and recalling details from the story. 

Play Bingo with story vocabulary. 

Scavenger Hunt: Can you find it in the book? 


Story Sequence

Sequence story details and retell the story to show understanding. Check out these task cards. Up to 8 students can each select a card, sequence themselves in order, and read the story details aloud in order. 

Use train mats to sort what happened at the begining, the middle, and end of the story.



Story Props 

Print tickets on cardstock to punch and use in role play. (Print on yellow paper for brighter "gold".) Or plan a movie day after reading. Give tickets to excange for hot cocoa and cookies. 



Examples of Imagery

The author uses incredible descriptive language throughout the book. Even without looking at the stunning illustrations, the text alone provides vivid imagery of this magical journey. 


Describe objects and places in the story using the details in the book as a reference. 



Students can draw their favorite part of the story. 

Or, have students write or draw what they would choose for the first gift of Christmas. 



Students can work with a partner or small group to solve these math word problems. 


Phonics or Articulation

Working on phonological Awareness or articulation skills. Here are some bingo dauber pages that concentrate on specific sounds and placement of the sounds. 



Use the Cutting Lines template as a road to beginning /s/ words.

Match Rhyming word with Themed Pairs train template. 



Visual Perceptual and Fine Motor Skills

Follow the maze to get to the North Pole. 

Make lacing cards using story vocabulary. Print on cardstock. Cut around the image and punch holes around the limage to lace with shoelaces. Students can talk about the items as they lace around the picture. 

Laminate story vocabulary to use with playdough or as a snack mat to facilitate language about the story. 


More Polar Express Activities