menu   home About Me rti Free My Products  

Polar Express Non-AR Reading Party

Door decoration

The last day before Christmas break was our big reading party!!  What fun we had too!  Our school decided to try a year without using Accelerated Reader (AR).  You can read about our thinking on why we made this change to let AR go by clicking here.  

This was our 2nd party of the year to celebrate reading (read about our first party by clicking here).  In the past years with AR, we only had 2 parties and not everyone got to participate.  This year we are celebrating 4 times and EVERYONE gets to be involved with celebrating how great reading can be.  Yay for that!! 

We picked the theme of The Polar Express, which is great for this time of year of course.  Most doors and halls were all decked out with trains, snowy trees, and snow flakes.  Lots of 3-D snowflakes were made and hung too.

door decorating

My teaching neighbor had her brother draw the train for our doors.  He did a fabulous job- what a talent!!

door decoration

Now to get back to the celebrating of reading!  Sorry I got off track there for a bit.  I just had to show you how our doors looked and the wonderful train!

Of course, The Polar Express was read in many classrooms and activities were done to go with the book.  Many classes had mystery guest readers.  Our principal participated in this and read the book in several rooms. 

Graham cracker train made with icing and decorated with Oreos and candy
Click on picture to be taken to Chasing Supermom Blog

The first graders made trains with graham crackers and candies, much like the one in the above picture.  I didn't get pictures of those cute trains, but they looked a lot like this one.  The kids had so much fun making them!  The teachers saved milk cartons for the bottom part to make them sturdier.  And putting them in a gallon size baggie for the trip home was a genius idea.  No lost goodies and parents were able to see their masterpiece.  

food craft

This little reindeer was made by the second graders.  Marshmallows, chocolate chips, red hots, pretzels and icing.  Quick and easy food craft!

Besides reading the book, mystery readers, food crafts, and decorating, lots of other fun things were happening for our Polar Express Reading Celebration!  Students wore their pjs and slippers to school.  They got to read in the hall, which is fun since they don't normally get to do that.  First grade had Polar Express tickets that had to be punched before they got to go to the movies- projector set out in the hall and students sprawled out on blankets while sipping hot cocoa.  

Jingle bells were handed out and fun was had and reading was celebrated!  What a great way to show the love of reading before heading out for our Christmas break.  

How does your school celebrate reading with students??  We are always looking for new ideas to steal borrow for our parties!!  :)


  1. Lori, your Polar Express day looks absolutely adorable!! How creative and fun! I'm sure your kids just had a blast :) Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and pinning my Groundhog Day Unit! I genuinely appreciate it! Happy New Year!

  2. I hope your school sticks with this every year. I think it celebrates being reading much more so than AR. :)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  3. Lori, Where do I begin to tell you how much I love this post??? I love that EVERY child is invited to the reading pary! I love the decorations for Polar Express! I love the graham cracker trains! Love, love, love! Hmmm ... something my school used to do to celebrate reading was to have BEAR breakfasts (Be Enthusiastic About Reading). The premise was to invite students and their parents to school early to read. They were to bring their own breakfast and sit around and read. It sounds crazy, but it was amazing!! I remember one family bringing cereal, milk, etc and the dad reading aloud as they all ate. Another family stopped at McDonalds. Some parents brought their own reading material. Others borrowed books from my room. Because of our limited parking situation, we had to have different grades do this on different days. Golly ... just writing about this has got me convinced that I MUST do this in 2013!!
    An Open Door
    P.S. I love living in sunny California, BUT I am jealous of your indoor hallways. We have no such thing. All of our classrooms open to the outside because we don't have the snow, etc. to deal with. I love the sunshine, but wish we had hallways to decorate and to read in!!

  4. What a fabulous day! I love how the whole school is involved. We haven't done anything like this in ages. I might have to share your post with my staff:)
    Happy New Year, Lori!
    PS Camille's bear breakfast looks fun, too!

  5. Thanks Khrys! We had a lot of fun that day! Happy New Year to you too!

  6. I hope we decide to stick with this way of celebrating reading also, Tammy. So much better than the alternative!

  7. Camille, that is a GREAT idea!! I just love that. I will have to bring that idea up to my committee the next time we meet. I can see how much fun the students would have with their families eating breakfast together and reading. :) Thanks soo much for sharing that!

  8. Thank you Barbara! I like that the whole school can be involved in reading also. So many ways and ideas to do this. And I agree, Camille's idea is great- sounds like a lot of fun! :)

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Free Resources