The Polar Express Escape Game-Style Activities

Let’s take a look at The Polar Express:

A magical Christmas read-aloud

The Polar Express escape style activities.
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tier 2 vocabulary

Vocabulary for The Polar Express.

picture book challenge

The Polar Express Escape Game-Style Activities

I’ve combined my love of read-alouds and escape games and created “picture book challenges.” The goal is for students to solve standards-based challenges that support the text (activities), discover mystery words, and crack a final code word. Why? Not to escape, but to discover the answer to a joke!Β 

Having an end goal makes students wantΒ to complete their work. It feels like a game! They feel like detectives as they solve clues and crack code words. The mystery words make each challenge self-checking. If the word is nonsense or misspelled, they must go back and check their answers.


After being taught the vocabulary words and hearing the book read aloud (a link to the story video is provided), students will:

1. Complete six ELA activities

2. Discover a mystery word for each challenge

3. Write the mystery words on a recording sheet

4. Use the six mystery words to crack a final code word. If the code word is correct, students are given a coloring page with the joke and the answer.

What skills are covered in these activities for The Polar Express?

The Polar Express Activities

This picture book challenge addresses the following skills:

  • Cause Effect
  • Nonfiction Passage & Questions
  • Vocabulary
  • Nouns and Verbs
  • Fact vs. Opinion
  • Comprehension questions

This challenge is digital and printable. The digital version is ready to assign in Google and Seesaw.

If you are a Microsoft school, here is a helpful blog post about using Google products in a Microsoft school.

The Polar Express digital activities.


Save this pin to your favorite classroom board to easily find it when you are ready for engaging activities for The Polar Express.

The Polar Express Escape Game-Style Activities

❄️Looking for more Christmas read-aloud books? You’ll love Dasher, by Matt Tavares. Dasher is a young reindeer who lives her days under the hot sun in a traveling circus. She longs for a life where snow blankets the ground and the North Star guides her way. This Christmas story is filled with lessons in kindness, bravery, and the importance of family.


I’ve created a picture book challenge for you to try out in your classroom. You can grab it below:

The Polar Express Escape Game-Style Activities