Every parent wants her child to believe in the magic of Christmas. It reflects all that is good and giving in the world. Since 1986, “The Polar Express” has been a touchstone of belief for parents and children alike. Reading this Caldecott award-winning book is a family tradition all over the world. But you can go beyond just reading, and bring the book to life by sharing these fun activities with the preschoolers in your life.
Polar Express Party
Invite a group of preschoolers to your home for a Polar Express party. Instead of invitations, draw and print tickets with gold lettering to mimic the experience of the characters. To make your tickets shine takes some planning. Print the words in gold ink on your own inkjet printer. To add some glitter, trace over some of the words with a metallic gold pen. Add a “train schedule” so that parents will know your plans for the party.
Cooking up Memories
In the book, the believing passengers on the train eat “candies with nougat centers as white as snow,” and drink “hot cocoa as thick and rich as chocolate bars.” Melt chocolate flavored candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and dip giant marshmallows for your own candies. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3 teaspoons of cocoa and a dash of vanilla to a cup of warm, whole milk for your own rich, hot chocolate. Roll out purchased or homemade sugar cookie dough and use train cookie cutters to bake your own polar express.
Polar Express Movie Viewing
Invite the special little people in your life to a theme viewing of the movie. Ask your guests to arrive in pajamas and bathrobes like the characters. Place chairs in rows to mimic train seats. Call the audience to attention with “All Aboard!” Serve candy and hot cocoa before you begin. During the movie, serve popcorn in Christmas gift bags instead of bowls to complete the Christmas theme.
Magic Jingle Bell
In the story, the main character receives a magic jingle bell from Santa’s own sleigh as the first gift of Christmas. Create a special jingle bell with the preschooler in your life to recreate this memory from the book. Give the child a choice of ribbon colors so that the craft is his own. Tie a length of ribbon to the jingle bell. Glue plastic or silk holly leaves to the ribbon. Hang the bell on the Christmas tree.
Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.