Saturday, January 10, 2015

Polar Express Week with Lesson Plan Ideas!

I have been meaning to write this post since before Christmas but many changes have happened in my personal life and work life... more on that later!

The week before Winter Break we do an entire week unit on Polar Express. This is just a quick recap (with pictures) of some of the fun activities we did. Most of these activities were found on Pinterest! As I have said before, Pinterest is amazing for these things! You can follow me on Pinterest by clicking HERE!

Monday- We started by discussing where the North Pole is located. We also discussed why it is much colder at the North Pole than other places on Earth. I showed the book and allowed students to brainstorm what they think the story is going to be about and where they think the train might be going (referred to the word polar in the title). The students then listened to the story read by Liam Neeson. I had them visualize and create a circle map with adjectives they could use to describe what they were visualizing. In addition the their circle maps, they had a sequencing worksheet to fill out. They cut out the strips and tried to place them where they went. They did not glue them down on Monday though; they did it on Tuesday.

Tuesday- We reviewed where the Polar Express was traveling to and then I read the story aloud. I modeled correct fluency. While reading, I stopped and asked important guiding questions and summarized the beginning of the story for the students. Students are filling out their beginning, middle, and end graphic organizer. After reading, the students worked in groups to fill out what happened in the middle. Then the students worked independently to fill out what happened at the end, With partners, they retold the story to each other in their own words. Afterwards, I gave them a post-it and they had to write what they thought the message of the story was.
Here are some of the guiding questions and answers I asked while reading:
- Why did the boy look out his window on Christmas Eve? (He heard the sounds of hissing steam and squeaking metal)
- Why do you think the train had stopped at the boy's house? Why do you think the boy decided to go?
- Where was the train going? How did the boy find out? (The conductor announced that the train was going to the North Pole)
- Why were the elves gathered at the center of the city? (They were waiting for Santa to give out the first gift)
- What does the author mean, "We slowed to a crawl?" Why did the train show to a crawl? (The train had to go very slowly because the streets were crowded with elves)
- How did the boy feel when he found out that the bell was gone? How did he act?
- How did the boy get the bell back? (Santa left it in box under the tree)
- Why did the parents think the bell was broken? (They couldn't hear the ringing)
- How do the pictures help tell the story?

Wednesday- We re-read the story again today and focused on similes. We have talked a little about similes before but I did a quick review. We found the smilies together in the story. The students had a Simile Star worksheet as well. On the worksheet, we created some together and then they worked on their own to create a few. They had so much fun creating smilies! Today we also reviewed their post its of what they thought the meaning of the story was. Some of them changed what they had thought and it led to a great discussion.

Thursday- I had the students get in groups and each group had a copy of the book. The reread the book together. Students then took a short assessment on the Polar Express. I gave the students a writing activity that turned out to be amazing. I was blown away by some of their responses.

Friday- Today students were allowed to wear PJs to school. When students came in their Polar Express ticket was waiting for them at their seat. We went to the Media Center to watch the movie. After the movie, students created a Venn Diagram and compared and contrasted the movie and the book. They also had great hot chocolate with whip cream and marshmallows waiting for them!

It was a great week with an amazing piece of literature. As I stated before, most of these ideas came from Pinterest!


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