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The Polar Express Activities and Lesson Plans for 2022

Elementary teachers looking for lesson plans and activities for The Polar Express will find this post helpful. It includes resource recommendations, free teaching ideas, and information about the book. You’ll have everything you need to deliver engaging interactive read aloud lessons based on this story.

With themes of feelings, this The Polar Express picture book by Chris Van Allsburg is a favorite in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. It will be a big hit in your classroom too! Learn more about this book below!

Engage Your Students with The Polar Express Lesson Plans & Activities in 3 Easy Steps:

  1. Read a summary of The Polar Express. You can find it in the section below.
  2. Check out the teaching ideas for reading comprehension strategies, grammar topics and social emotional learning skills that can be taught using this children’s book.
  3. Download the book companion to make lesson planning simple with The Polar Express reading comprehension questions, writing prompts, teaching ideas & no-prep extension activities.

THE POLAR EXPRESS SUMMARY

The Polar Express is a magical story about a late night train ride to the North Pole. On Christmas Eve the main character lays quietly in his bed hoping to hear Santa, however he hears the train instead. The boy runs outside and learns it is headed to the North Pole. On board, he and other children enjoy cocoa in their pajamas as the train moves through the night.

When they arrive at the North Pole, the children learn one person will be chosen to receive the first gift of Christmas. The main character is chosen and he asks Santa for a bell from his sleigh. When the children are back on the train and heading home, everyone wants to see the bell. When the boy reaches into his pocket for it, he realizes there was a hole in his pocket! The bell is gone!

The next morning, the boy opens Christmas presents with his family. His younger sisters hands him the last gift and the boy is surprised to see the bell. There was a note from Santa explaining he found it on the sleigh. As the boy shakes the bell, he and his sister can hear the beautiful sound but his parents cannot. Years pass and soon his sister and friends can no longer hear the bell either. Only those that truly believe will be able to hear the beautiful bell.

THE POLAR EXPRESS LESSON PLAN IDEAS

Each of our 400+ Starts With a Story book companions come with a teacher’s guide to make lesson planning quick and easy, printable worksheets and digital resources that cover ALL of the standards-based reading comprehension skills.

When it comes to writing lesson plans and finding activities for The Polar Express, we’ve already done all of the heavy lifting for you.

We found this book was especially good at teaching the topics listed below.

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

The text-based The Polar Express reading comprehension questions focus on:

  • making inferences
  • visualizing
  • analyzing character
  • plot (problem-solution)
  • author’s purpose

LITERATURE-BASED SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING LESSONS

We found this story to be a great SEL picture book to promote:

  • feelings

GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY & WORD STUDY

  • base words
  • articles
  • adverbs
  • prepositions

THE POLAR EXPRESS ACTIVITIES

You’ll receive all of the following resources aligned to the story:

  • comprehension questions
  • 30 writing prompts with themed paper
  • vocabulary activities
  • word study print & go activities
  • ideas for grammar lessons with focus sentence printables
  • social emotional learning discussion topics
  • graphic organizers to target specific comprehension skills and strategies
The Polar Express activities
elementary teacher reading aloud a picture book to her students

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The Polar Express activity

BOOK INFO FOR ELEMENTARY TEACHERS

What are the reading levels for The Polar Express?

  • Lexile® Measure: 650-675
  • Guided Reading Level: P
  • DRA Level: 36-38
  • Accelerated Reader Level (ARC): 3.8

Who is the author? Who is the illustrator?

The book was written by Chris Van Allsburg . It was illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg .

What genre is The Polar Express ?

It is a fiction book. You may want to check out our genre activities or read our blog post, How to Teach Genre to Elementary Students.

How many pages are in the book?

The story is 32 pages long.

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