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CREDIT: Houghton Mifflin

Polar Express Activities and Lesson Plans

Polar Express -- the book and the movie -- are student favorites. During this holiday season, take advantage of this "teachable moment" by connecting the book and movie to your curriculum. Included: Education World connects you to lessons, resources.

Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express is one of the most beloved children's books and movies of all time. Wise teachers everywhere are looking for ways to capitalize on interest in the story as children and families revisit this timeless classic during the holiday season.

To help you take advantage in the classroom of this supremely "teachable moment," Education World has gathered lessons and other resources from around the Web. We hope these great resources help you connect The Polar Express to all areas of your curriculum.

Just for Fun

Imagine you are able to go on a magical journey like the boy. Where do you go? How do you get there? How are you changed by the experience?

The boy's bell is magic -- only he can hear it. Imagine you find or are given a magic_____ that only you can _____ (you fill in the blanks). Describe how this object changes your life.

The boy chooses a simple, meaningful gift over a fancy gift that is meaningless. Think of someone you love very much. What kind of gift could you give that person that would mean as much as the boy's bell? It doesn't have to be a real object.

Activity source: The Polar Express Teacher's Guide (Houghton Mifflin)


Five Activities for Teaching The Polar Express

The five links below offer fun activities for teaching with The Polar Express. You'll find links to many additional activities as you scroll down this page.

A train track reading log
Use this printable sheet to motivate kids to read or to help encourage parents to read to or with their kids.

Polar Express crossword puzzle
With this printable, kids share basic knowledge about the movie.

Polar Express word search puzzle
Build vocabulary and spelling skills as kids hunt for 23 words. Printable work sheet included.

Make your own reindeer
Follow up your reading of Polar Express with this simple craft activity.

Polar Express recipes
Have a party with caramel nougat squares and chocolate-bar cocoa.

The above activities are part of a great resource from Houghton Mifflin. For additional activities, printables, and resources from the publisher, see their resource A Polar Express Pajama Party.

More resources from Houghton Mifflin

Additional resources from the publisher include the following:

More lessons and resources

CREDIT: Warner Bros.

Lesson ideas for teaching with The Polar Express

The Polar Express unit & theme
Teacher Colleen Gallagher's "Teaching Heart" Web site offers some wonderful, easy-to-use activities for getting the most out of your classroom reading of The Polar Express.

The Polar Express math problems
These story problems related to The Polar Express come from

A vacation to the polar regions
Extend learning about the polar regions with this lesson plan from National Geographic.

Polar animals
The Activity Idea Place offers a couple dozen language arts, art, and music ideas to help teach about animals of the polar regions.

Resources for teaching about Chris Van Allsburg

CREDIT: Houghton Mifflin

Chris Van Allsburg
This is Chris's official Web page. Here you will find a brief biography, an FAQ page, teacher resources, a scavenger hunt for kids, and much more.

A conversation with Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin)

Author spotlight: Chris Van Allsburg Biography (

Author Spotlight: Chris Van Allsburg Interview (

Author Studies: Chris Van Allsburg's Interview Transcript (


Updated 12/9/2016