The Polar Express Extension Activities for Young Children!

the polar express
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The Polar Express  by Chris Van Allsberg is a classic book for introducing Christmas literacy to children.  We hope you and your children enjoy some of the extension activities below!


Give each child a bell after the story and string it on red yarn or ribbon. Tell the children that the bells will serve as a reminder for each child to do at least one special kindness each day. Make a kindness box from an empty tissue box and wrap it in green and red paper. The children can stamp or write upper or lowercase C’s on a paper Christmas tree when another child (or adult) has done something extra special for them. Instead of writing a “C,” students could also write or copy the person’s name on the tree.   Before Christmas, or before a winter break,  count all of the trees in the kindness box and prepare a special treat/card or gift to deliver to another person (it could be a friend, a neighbor, and elderly person, another teacher, the custodian, the office staff, etc.).

Christmas Play Dough Mats

Cocoa Cups and Marshmallows Play Dough Mats:  Christmas Theme Play Dough Mats for Preschool and Kindergarten

Materials needed:  Play dough mats (linked above), white play dough, and scissors.

Print the play dough mats and laminate for durability, if desired. Have the children cut or pinch off small pieces of white play dough to place in the “marshmallow” circles. Older children can roll small “marshmallow” balls with the play dough to add to the math mats. Extension idea: Cut the individual cocoa cups apart and use the cups for basic addition or subtraction. For example, for addition, have the children add together two cups (using play dough “marshmallows” for counters) and write or stamp the sum of the two numbers on one of the blank cocoa cups (located on the last pages of the file.)

Christmas Shapes Name Train Activity for Preschool

Christmas Train:  Christmas Train 

Materials needed:  One Christmas Train per student, scissors, and glue sticks

Print the train (preferably on heavy paper) for your children.  Have the children cut out all the shapes on the bottom part of the worksheet (assist younger students.)  The children must match the bottom shapes to the corresponding shapes on the Christmas Train.  After the children match the shapes, have them glue all the pieces in place.  Laminate the trains when the children are done for a literacy or math display.

Christmas Name Trains for Preschool and Kindergarten

Christmas Name Trains: Christmas Name Train 

Materials needed: One Polar Express Name Train.pdf (linked above) for each student, white crayons, liquid glue, and glitter (can omit, if desired).

Print the Polar Express Name Train.pdf and have the children write their name with a white crayon. Outline the names with liquid glue (assist young children if needed). Have the children shake glitter (if desired) over the glue and let dry overnight.

When dry, the children can use their trains as homemade rubbing plates.  Place the train on a  clipboard with a white sheet of paper on top. Have the children use crayons to gently rub over the train until their name appears.

  For more Christmas Ideas, the Christmas and Gingerbread Thematic Units are now available for download!