Christmas Themed Days in the Classroom with The Polar Express

I don’t know if you like or LOVE themed days in your classroom, but I LIVED for them!  Themes get kids excited, which can be exhausting, BUT, they get them engaged.  Don’t get upset when your kids are loud and jumping with excitement.  When they are excited to learn, especially when they are having so much fun they don’t even know your academic objectives, is when you can pat yourself on the back knowing you are Teacher OF THE YEAR!  My favorite theme that I used most of my career was The Polar Express.  The story is perfect for squashing any “non-Santa believer’s” verbal language with other students who want the magic still.  I’ve also used a Winter Frozen theme and a Movie Theater themed day.

The Polar Express

I’ll walk you through my typical Polar Express day.  Parents are asked to send in hot chocolate, marshmallows, and dress the kiddos in their school appropriate PJs. (Make sure you get your principal’s permission first.) In the morning, students arrive to a chalk or taped train track on the floor leading to my classroom door.  At the door, they are greeted by a crazy conductor (ME), who wants to collect money or items in exchange for a golden ticket.  This is really fun!  It is also the time I tell parents to come and take photos.  I joke around telling kids to get some money from their parents, and then settle for a shoe or pencil in exchange for a ticket.

Polar Express Ideas

When the students enter the room, they hear train sounds, see the chairs in rows (like a train), smell hot chocolate in the air, and are instructed to stay on in their train seats with their

Golden Tickets for The Polar Express

golden ticket.  After they settle, we review rules for the day.  I take out a hole punch to ask for each person’s golden ticket.  I pretend to punch holes in the ticket by excitedly putting the tickets under my let, over my head or behind my back making the clicking sound.  You can either collect the tickets and reuse them every year, or allow them to take them home for a keepsake.

 

We read the book first.  I tell them that the movie came out after the book.  Students are encouraged to find differences when they watch the movie.  We talk about characters, settings, problem and solutions.  We talk about the author’s purpose.  During the week they do various writing activities, but the main themed day is about keeping the excitement all day, so focus on the fun.  I tell students they are going on the imagination express to take their seats on the train.  After beginning the movie, I have a little cart that I keep the hot cocoa on that has wheels.  When the part of the movie comes on where the kids get cocoa, I roll out the cart, I DANCE, yes, DANCE around like crazy.  Before I got to old, I did cartwheels!  This is always the part of the day that the kids go home telling their parents about.  I have a hot cocoa maker that I use every year that makes a whole pot of cocoa.  I make it really strong and then, mix it with water so it is not too hot.

Hot Cocoa Time

After The Movie

After the kids watch the movie, we do a Venn Diagram to compare the book and the movie.  I hold a bell up and ring it.  I pretend like I can’t hear it, because I must be too old or not a believer.  (Sniff Sniff)  The rest of the day we make crafts, sing holiday songs, and usually write a letter to Santa.  This way I can send the letters home to help the parents out with some gift ideas.  If you are looking for a fun themes holiday day, The Polar Express just may be your ticket!

Mr. Coffee Cocomotion Hot Chocolate Maker

Polar Express Activities for Writing and Author's Purpose

 

 

Hawaii Heaven Classroom Decor

I haven’t posted lately because I was on my dream vacation in Hawaii!  It was everything I imagined and more.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.  Although Waikiki and Honolulu were a bit more commercialized than I expected, I found one island just amazing!  My favorite island was Maui.  If you love tropical vacations, like I do, it is an experience of a life time.  I live in Florida, so I’m use to the beach life.  The Road to Hana, hidden waterfalls, legends, Poke Bowls, caves, rain forest, volcano, spectacular snorkel spots,  and friendly locals made a magical trip for my family.  The trip hit the wallet a little harder than I expected even with all the research I did prior to the trip, but it was well worth it. Now, I have so many ideas for a new classroom decor!

Every corner I found inspiration for new #TpT products.  I took a lot of pictures  to create a tropical classroom decor pack that I can’t wait to see come to life.  So far I have made a Hawaiian themed Color Word Posters and a Word Wall Banner Set.  These will become part of a Hawaiian Theme Classroom Decor BUNDLE… COMING SOON.  Go check them out though, if you are thinking about a beach classroom theme for your classroom. One of our favorite hidden lunch places that we just happened to stumble upon is called The Garden Terrace at Kula Lodge!  Eat outside while enjoying the spectacular entire west side of Maui view.  They have an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven that my kids still talk about today!  Mama’s Fish House Restaurant was our favorite place on the island for catching a view of Maui’s amazing sunsets.  The food is absolute terrific!  You can find some of the sunset pictures in the new calendar pack I’m in the process of making that will be part of the set.  I rarely post pictures of my family on my blog, but here is one showing the beautiful sunset.

Check back in the future for blogs on the new Hawaii Themed Decor Sets that I will have up in my Teacher’s Brain store soon.  As they say in Hawaii… Mahalo!!!!

I realize some of you are not on summer vacation yet.  You may want to check out the blog post about End of the School Year Activities.