The Polar Express is an enchanting holiday tale of a young boy who doubts that Santa Claus truly exists. On one special Christmas Eve, as the boy skeptically waits for the sound of sleigh bells, a magical train appears outside his home and the conductor invites him aboard.
What lies ahead is an extraordinary adventure of self-discovery through which the young boy learns that for those who believe, the wonders of life never fade.
This beautifully made film, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, was one we enjoyed learning about for a day or two.
We began our journey with reading a condensed version of the book. We then used flour, tracks, and automated train cars to create our own version of the story!
In preschool classrooms, you may observe children enthusiastically counting collections of erasers, small toy animals, colored cotton balls, and buttons, then represent their counts on paper—often by drawing the objects or a circle to represent each item and placing the objects on their representations to ensure an accurate count.
They may seem like they are just playing, participants in a silly game of little significance. This could not be more untrue.
Play versus academic skills: It’s not a zero-sum game.
Did the children engaged in these activities know they were participating in math lessons?
Probably not. But they were indeed learning math through what I refer to as playful instruction. As part of our curriculum, we are constantly using everyday items to count, sort, and label their physicality.
For one week in December, we talked about the shapes that make up snowflakes. We discussed triangles, hexagon, squares, and circles and their relevance to the snowflake shape. We initially matched pieces of a snowflake into a pre-made puzzle and then cut up paper to construct our very own!