When I first read "The Polar Express" I was smitten with the visuals of the dark woods, the wolves that lurked along the train tracks and just the thought of a North Pole train on Christmas Eve. When the book packet and cassette tape was on the market, in 2008, I couldn't wait to buy it. AND to have actor Liam Neeson read the story? I've always admired him in movies, so I figured his voice would be a perfect fit.
Every time I read the story to my students, I set the stage. Close the blinds, turn on a small lamp on one of the tables, and have students bring their teddy bears or other favorite stuffed animals to school that day.
Prior to listening to the tape, I tell them that the best way to "see" the setting of a story, when they listen to someone read it, is to close their eyes and visualize it. What do you see? How do you feel? What do you hear?
As we listen to the story, there's not a sound to be heard, except the voice of Mr. Neeson, who has my students' complete and undivided attention.
When he mentions the bell, I reach in my pocket and ring a little jingle bell. Kids gasp and look around with "who did that" looks on their faces.
I look up at the ceiling and smile. They know. They know I rang the bell...
They hug their stuffed animals and smile back at me. It's a special moment, one that remains just as special, each year when I ring that little bell.
Consider doing my "ring the bell" lesson with your children and students, so that you may too, have a very special time that will be a fond remembrance.
I just had to make Polar Express board games after loving the story for so long.
Kids and adults will take a ride on the Polar Express as they play these board games! There are 3 game boards that can be printed, glued to pieces of light cardboard and laminated for future use. Questions and answers are included.
Keep a silver bell hidden in your pocket and when you read the words "silver bell" or "bell" give the bell a shake. Give little bells to your kids so they can ring them when you read the story a second time!
Game boards have different questions. Can be printed in color or black and white. Good for small groups. Rotate the boards among the groups so that everyone can answer all the questions. The train graphic appears blurry, but it's not! :)
Click on the cover