10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (2024)

Written almost four decades ago, “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg is a classic Christmas story for children. It has won the Caldecott Medal and is still listed as one of the best books for children.

This beautifully-illustrated picture book resulted in a movie adaption, worldwide train ride experiences, and even a musical adaptation.

Inspire children with these ten crafts that will allow children to imagine and experience a magical journey.

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (1)

Shape Recognition | Creativity | Fine Motor Skills

1. Polar Express Train with Moving Wheels

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (2)

This craft will go well with a Christmas theme and/or transportation unit. The moving wheels will fascinate children as the book is read. Make this craft to teach children about colors and shapes.

Have a lesson in social studies to explain that the Polar Express Train is an example of a steam locomotive.

Let them compare it with modern trains to them find similarities and differences. Show pictures and videos for children to understand better.

No templates are provided in this craft, but the shapes can be easily duplicated. Refer to the pictures on the site for this part.

Cut out three different sizes of circles from the black construction paper. These will become the wheels. Next, use green paper to cut out a square and a rectangle for the train’s body.

Trim the edges rectangle and stick the square on the left side. Poke holes in the black circles and attach them using the brass fastener. Cut out a yellow rectangle for the window and stick it on the train’s body.

Add a red triangle for the bumper and a red trapezoid for the smokestack. Glue the cotton balls to resemble smoke. Finally, decorate the train using glitter glue.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Brass fasteners
  • Cotton balls
  • Glitter glue

For more information on this activity, go to SightAndSoundReading.com.

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (3)

Oral Language | Comprehension | Memory

2. Polar Express Bell Craft

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The boy in the story requested a reindeer’s bell when asked to choose the first gift from Santa. Make this bell craft to remind children of the fantastic story.

Aside from an inexpensive ornament, children will have the chance to improve their fine motor skills. Relive the story through a role play using this bell. Doing this will help improve their oral language skills, memory, and comprehension.

Make the bells by cutting the egg carton into individual cups. Next, cut out aluminum foil large enough to cover the egg carton cups.

Carefully wrap this on the cup, ensuring that the ends of the foil go inside the cups and the flat part of the egg carton cups is smooth. Use a sharp tool to poke a hole in the cups. Set these aside.

Take two jingle bells and tie them with a ribbon. The site suggests using two different sizes of bells. Make the ribbon long enough, so it is possible to hang it. Insert the ribbon in the hole and tie the ends.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Egg carton
  • Aluminum foil
  • Ribbons
  • Jingle bells
  • Scissors

For more information on this activity, go to LittleBinsForLittleHands.com.

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (5)

Fine Motor Skills | Counting | Creativity

3. Pom Pom Hot Cocoa Mug Craft

Sipping hot cocoa and singing Christmas carols are excellent reminders of the children’s train ride in the Polar Express.

This simple craft is easy to make and is good practice for young children to work on their cutting skills. Make several of these in different colors to teach color recognition skills.

Use a different combination of the paper mug and ribbon to teach children patterns. Vary the number of pompoms on each craft for children to practice their counting skills.

Children may practice tracing or writing their names on the paper mug to improve their fine motor skills. Have a fun discussion on children’s favorite drink when it is cold to warm them up.

Outline and cut out the mug shape on construction paper to make a hot cocoa craft. Let children choose their preferred color for this step. For the hot cocoa, cut out an oval shape from brown paper. Stick this on the top part of the mug.

Add the pompoms to the brown paper. Cut the ribbon to make a small bow and stick it on the mug.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Construction paper
  • Pompoms
  • Ribbon
  • Glue
  • Scissors

For more information on this activity, go to CraftyMorning.com.

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Play Pretend | Color Recognition | Familiarity of Direction

4. Popsicle Stick Polar Express Train

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Let children create their own version of the Polar Express with craft sticks. They can pretend to go to the North Pole just like in the story.

This train craft can be used as a tree ornament or to display the child’s picture. Instead of Santa in the window, a picture of the child can be an option. As children assemble this craft, they will improve their fine motor skills.

Make several trains in different colors to help children with their color recognition skills. Use this craft to teach directionality. Tell the children that the train will go to their homes and needs the right directions, so it will not get lost.

Use phrases like turn left or turn right, go over or under, go past, etc. Children will also improve their oral language skills as they learn to tell directions.

To make the train, line up four craft sticks vertically, and glue the other four sticks horizontally. Refer to the pictures on the site for this step. Once the glue dries, have the children paint it with their favorite color. Allow the paint to dry.

Cut out circles for the wheels from black cardstock. Stick these on the train. Cut out a small square to make the window. Let children draw Santa on the train control.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Large craft sticks
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Glue
  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Embellishments

For more information on this activity, go to GluedToMyCraftsBlog.com.

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (9)

Memory | Comprehension | Oral Language

5. Reindeer Craft and Counting Game

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The reindeer pulled Santa’s sleigh in “The Polar Express.” Use this craft to retell the story. Children will improve their memory, comprehension, and oral language skills.

Allow children to infer the boy’s feelings as he asked for the silver bell for his Christmas gift instead of something special from Santa’s huge bag. This will help children learn empathy and improve their social-emotional skills.

The site suggests using the reindeer to teach counting by letting children count the blades of grass it will eat.

To make the reindeer, cut to size a paper towel roll to make two pieces. Ensure that the body is slightly longer than the head. Wrap these with brown cardstock and secure them with glue.

Next, poke two holes in the head and insert the pipe cleaners to resemble the antlers. Stick the googly eyes and red pompoms for the nose. Attach the head to the body. Finally, use craft glue to stick the twigs for their legs.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Paper towel roll
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Hole puncher
  • Cardstock
  • Twigs
  • Clothespin
  • Googly eyes
  • Pompoms
  • Glue
  • Scissors

For more information on this activity, go to FantasticFunAndLearning.com

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (11)

Color Recognition | Hand-Eye Coordination | Fine Motor Skills

6. STEM Bell Keychain

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This bell craft resembles the reindeer’s bell that the boy asked Santa for as his gift. Use this craft to teach children colors and patterns. Use the pattern AABB, ABAB, or ABBA using colors.

As they thread the beads, their hand-eye coordination skills will also improve.

For this craft, it is recommended to use beads with bigger holes, such as Pony beads or Perler beads. This will allow young children to hold them well while threading. Use a plastic needle for safety, or tie the thread on a pipe cleaner.

Start making this craft by letting the children choose the color of the beads. Line up the beads, then decide the length of the key chain. Cut the thread and insert it into the needle. Allow some extra length so the ends can be tied once finished.

Thread the beads up to the desired length. Insert the jingle bell and tie up the ends several times to secure.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Plastic needle
  • Thread or yarn
  • Beads
  • Jingle bell

For more information on this activity, go to RainyDayMum.co.uk.

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (13)

Visual | Sensory Development | Fine Motor Skills

7. The Polar Express Discovery Bottle

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The Polar Express-themed discovery bottle will allow children to visually explore some features in the story by looking for familiar objects.

Discovery bottles are essential for centers and calming areas. Children will learn to observe patiently while searching for objects inside the jars. Doing this will also help them relax when overwhelmed with different tasks.

To make the discovery bottle, choose a large jar to fit all the contents and still have enough space for these objects to move around. Ensure that the jar is clean and dry.

Take a good amount of tinsel and cut it into small pieces. The site suggests cutting it into two inches long. This will make a good amount of snow in the jar. Add more if necessary.

Place the tinsel with the snowflake confetti, train, and bell inside the jar. Tighten the cap well or seal it with sticky tape to prevent children from opening the jar and spilling its contents.

Read the book and let the children find the objects in the jar based on the story.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Jar
  • White tinsel
  • Jingle bell
  • Toy train
  • Snowflake confetti

For more information on this activity, go to SunnyDayFamily.com.

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (15)

Hand-Muscle Coordination | Sensory Movement | Oral Language

8. DIY Snow

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It was a snowy night on Christmas eve when the boy rode the Polar Express to the North Pole. Create a snowy environment through this sensory bin filled with now that never melts.

Fake snow can be used in different ways. It provides a wonderful sensory experience for children to work on in centers or sensory bins. They can make snowmen and use cookie cutters to make different shapes.

Let children scoop, transfer, and mold these to help strengthen their hand muscles and improve their fine motor skills.

This great material goes well with the winter theme, Arctic animals, and weather unit activities. Hide plastic animals or other objects related to the theme for children to find.

Ask children about their favorite activity for the winter theme to help develop their oral language skills. Use winter-themed words to increase their vocabulary.

To make the fake snow, line the bin with diapers and fill it with cold water. Leave it for a few minutes. Let the diapers absorb the water. Next, cut the diapers open using scissors.

Take the gel material from the diapers and place them in the bin. Discard the rest of the torn diapers. This fake snow is reusable and can be stored in a clean container.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Four diapers
  • Cold water
  • Bin
  • Scissors

For more information on this activity, go to ParentingChaos.com.

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (17)

Hand-Eye Coordination | Control | Fine Motor Skills

9. Polar Express Fine Motor Play

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In the Polar Express, tickets are needed for those who will ride the train. In this case, these tickets help children develop their fine motor skills.

Tracing the words using bingo markers and pushpins on the corkboard will help children improve their hand-eye coordination and control. Assist children when using sharp pushpins to prevent accidents.

Using the hole puncher to punch holes in letters will strengthen their hand muscles. Using dot stickers on letters will help with letter recognition skills. This ticket activity provides different modifications for children with varying abilities.

To make the tickets, fold the yellow card twice to make four strips. Cut these out and trim the edges in a letter C shape. Use the marker to outline the edges. Use the pencil to write a word in each strip.

Write the words BELIEVE, LEARN, COUNT ON, and LEAD, just like in the book. Let children choose their preferred fine motor activity to complete the task.

Extend this activity by using the names, number words, and color words to work on the ticket.

For this activity, you will need:

  • A4 yellow card
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Corkboard
  • Pushpins
  • White dot stickers
  • Bingo markers

For more information on this activity, go to RainyDayMum.co.uk.

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Vocabulary | Oral Language | Social-Emotional Skills

10. Hot Chocolate Dramatic Play

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Set up a dramatic play area using hot chocolate as its theme. Remind children of the scene where children in the Polar Express sang songs and drank hot cocoa on their way to the North Pole.

This activity will allow children to explore a career in coffee shops. Pretend play will help children improve their vocabulary and oral language skills.

The site suggests using structured sentences to welcome guests and when offering the menu. Children who will act as guests will learn social-emotional skills when dining out.

Download and print the signages and other printables from the site. Laminate these if possible for durability. Set up a table and chairs for guests. On the stand, prepare the toy sets, utensils, and plastic food.

Place the menu on a clipboard and attach a pencil for the servers to use when guests order food. Once ready, divide the children as they take turns in playing the role of servers and guests.

Let the servers practice their greeting and lines when offering the menu, while guests will practice their lines to customize their orders.

Once playtime is over, discuss their experience as they took on the roles of servers and guests. This will help children process their emotions based on their experiences.

For this activity, you will need:

  • Ready made stand for pretend play
  • Plastic utensils
  • Plastic food
  • Toy sets
  • Printed order form
  • Pencil
  • Signages
  • Clipboard

For more information on this activity, go to Pre-KPages.com.

Conclusion

These wonderful crafts will provide children with a wonderful experience that will help them appreciate the story of “The Polar Express” and will make great after-reading activities to supplement the lesson.

Consider using these crafts that can be modified to fit children’s abilities. They will help improve children’s various skills while having fun.

Thank you for reading. Come back and check out our other craft articles soon.

More crafts and activities you might like:

  • Angel Crafts for Preschoolers
  • Polar Bear Crafts for Preschool
  • Recycling Activities for Preschoolers
  • Transportation Worksheets for Preschool

10 Polar Express Crafts Preschoolers Will Love (Plus Themed Activities!) - Education Outside (2024)
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