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All Aboard the Polar Express!
14 Dec, 2013. 10 Comments. A Day In First Grade, December, First Grade, First Grade Holidays, Holidays, Kindergarten Holidays, Language, Preschool Holidays. Posted By: Kristen Smith

This past week my class and I dove into one of my favorite Christmas books ever written, “The Polar Express.” I told my class after the first time we read the book that I love the sense of wonder and awe that the author portrays in the story. We talked about what it means to truly believe (and since I work at a Christian school, I use this book to show what it means to truly believe in Jesus.) My students ADORED the story and all of the activities that we did with it.

We started the week with the language learning objectives of practicing ABC Order, contractions, long and short vowels and reading with accuracy.

My students LOVED their centers this week. 

To meet the objective of practicing ABC Order, my students had to study Santa’s naughty and nice lists. If the list was in ABC Order, it was a “nice” list. If it was NOT in ABC Order, it was a naughty list. They loved finding names that they knew and sorting the lists correctly. (I loved this because it really made my students apply the meaning of ABC Order!)

The next center that we used was sorting Santa’s Christmas cookies. In this game my students had to read the words and sort them by whether they had long vowels or short vowels. 
 Then they recorded their words and wrote sentences using them. 
 The third center that I used was from my friend DeAnne at First Grade and Fabulous.  I used this center last year and could not wait to use it again. In it, students match the hot chocolate mugs to marshmallows. (Perfect for a Polar Express week) The mugs have two words like “had not” and the marshmallows have the contractions. I love how it helps students with contractions in a super fun way. This is from DeAnne’s pack called “Baking for Santa.” We love it! 
 To help us with reading with accuracy and fluency, my students put the song “Santa Claus is coming to town” in order at our poetry and song center. This is one of my favorite centers in my classroom. I love that students have to work together and use their critical thinking skills here. My students LOVE singing, so this one was right up their alley. 
Finally, we loved reviewing punctuation with “Polar Express themed” sentences. 
My students read their sentences and then sorted them by the type of punctation that they needed. 
{please ignore the golden ticket envelopes in the background that are in desperate need of some TLC!! LOL}
 On Friday, to culminate our week of learning, we had the best Polar Express Day, ever. Seriously, Friday was one of my favorite days of teaching in all of my ten years. My students all came to school in their PJs, and I had a few surprises up my sleeve. 
What my students did not know was that a real life Polar Express train was waiting for them to ride. They were SO excited!!  We bundled up and headed outside to go for a ride! Even our conductor was dressed for the event! 
 We took a few pictures and then took off! 
SO MUCH FUN!!! 
 While my students were at specials, I put together a snack mix for them to enjoy while we watched the movie. The mix had: Golden Graham cereal, mini marshmallows, milk chocolate chips, and Christmas colored M&Ms. 
 I also made them cups of hot chocolate.  (To boil water, I brought in my electric kettle– it worked out great!) 
 Mmmmmm! 
 After the movie we completed a Venn Diagram comparing the book to the movie. While my students were hard at work, I opened the classroom door and much to our surprise there was a PRESENT THERE! When I brought it in, I told my students, that it was ICE COLD. (it was in the freezer all day!) They all felt it and their eyes got HUGE. One student said (with so much excitement) “It must be from the North Pole!!!!”
I asked them if I should open it and they all said screamed “YES!!!!!”
I wish I could have captured my students’ reactions to this whole event that took place because it was simply priceless. Huge smiles. Wide Eyes. Hands in the air. Childhood excitement at its best. 
In the box, we found gift bags for each of my students. 
I began to hand them out and my students said, “Oh my goodness!! I hear THE BELL!!!!” After everyone had received their baggie, I had them go to their desks to open them up. 
 Very delicately, they opened their bags with squeals of joy. 
 They were flabbergasted that the bells were ice cold. 
 One of my  kids exclaimed, “Santa brought me exactly what I wanted for Christmas!!” 
 Inside the bags there also was a gift tag that said “Believe” and candy from the North Pole. (white, green, and red Sixlets) 
The best part of the whole process was after all my students had opened their baggies and had their bells out, one student quietly started singing, “Jingle bells… jingle bells….” and the rest of the class joined in creating the most wonderful rendition of the song that I have ever heard.  
 It seriously was magical and better than I ever expected. I will forever hold this day in my heart with visions of my students excited faces and squeals of joy. 
 I hope that y’all are having a great time in your classrooms these last few days before Christmas break. 
 {If you are interested in any of the centers from this blog post, simply click on the picture and it will direct you to the packet at my store.}

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10 Comments
  1. Looks like a fun day! Love the pictures! Thanks for the shout out!

  2. So cute! Like your center pics:)

  3. Can we please team-teach?!?!?!?! Love you and everything you create. You are simply amazing in all ways!!!! xoxoxo

  4. wow! What a wonderful post! Your children will remember this week forever :)

    Sarah
    teachingiscolorful.blogspot.com

  5. Simply AMAZING!

  6. How FUN! You are AMAZING, but I think everyone already said that! Love you!!

  7. Jill -

    What a wonderful day you provided for your students. Thanks for the great ideas.

  8. How exciting!!! We have our Polar Express Party this coming Thursday. I can’t wait to use some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing. :)

  9. I want to be a student in your class! Thanks for sharing your amazing ideas!

    Shelly
    Smiling and Shining in Second Grade

  10. We have Polar Express Day this coming Wed. It truly is the MOST magical day all year. We write letters to Santa and he writes us back and delivers us bells at the end of the day straight from the North Pole. Great memories!

    Lindsay
    For the Love of First Grade

10 Comments

  • Looks like a fun day! Love the pictures! Thanks for the shout out!

  • So cute! Like your center pics:)

  • Can we please team-teach?!?!?!?! Love you and everything you create. You are simply amazing in all ways!!!! xoxoxo

  • wow! What a wonderful post! Your children will remember this week forever :)

    Sarah
    teachingiscolorful.blogspot.com

  • Simply AMAZING!

  • How FUN! You are AMAZING, but I think everyone already said that! Love you!!

  • Jill -

    What a wonderful day you provided for your students. Thanks for the great ideas.

  • How exciting!!! We have our Polar Express Party this coming Thursday. I can’t wait to use some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • I want to be a student in your class! Thanks for sharing your amazing ideas!

    Shelly
    Smiling and Shining in Second Grade

  • We have Polar Express Day this coming Wed. It truly is the MOST magical day all year. We write letters to Santa and he writes us back and delivers us bells at the end of the day straight from the North Pole. Great memories!

    Lindsay
    For the Love of First Grade

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