Polar Express Literacy Unit - 2nd 3rd 4th Common Core Aligned Centers

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Adventures of a Schoolmarm
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Adventures of a Schoolmarm


Looking for a great way to keep your students engaged with fun AND rigorous activities before the winter holidays? The Polar Express literacy unit includes nearly 100 pages of literacy centers, printables, writing prompts, and more! This unit is Common Core Aligned for 2nd, 3rd, 4th grades.

What buyers are saying about The Polar Express unit...
"After downloading 3 other Polar Express units and not liking what I have gotten I finally found this gem!! Thank you for keeping it rigorous and to the core! Other products are too cutesy and watered down, but yours is purposeful, engaging, and dare I even say...cutesy. Thank you a million times!" --Katie H.

"This is such an in-depth way to tie in CCSS into one of my favorite Christmas traditions--thank you for this resource! I cannot wait to expand upon just reading the book with these tools!" --Janean J.

"A great unit for older kids! My students love this book and were thrilled with all of the activities. It was a great way to calm the Christmas crazies!" --Miss Johnston

"I LOVE THIS UNIT! I have been searching for a unit for this book that is appropriate for my third graders. This is definitely fun AND rigorous! I love that it correlates with Common Core Standards for multiple grade levels so I can even differentiate for my kids that need support or need a challenge. Perfect! The Reader's Theater is fantastic! I can't wait to use this in my classroom this year." --Buyer

"This is a really great unit! There are so many engaging activities that tie into the book, but also cover academic standards. Thank you!" --Buyer

Story Skills
RL.2.1 RL.3.1, RL.3.2, RL.4.1, RL.4.2
* Making Inferences - Students will be able to practice using text clues and their schema to make inferences about The Polar Express.

* Alphasort - Students will be able to determine which words are most important to understanding the text, compare with a friend, and justify the words they chose.

* Select Two and Respond - Students will be able to select two words that are important to understanding the text and write a complete paragraph using those words.

* Story Map - Students will be able to identify the characters, setting, problem, and solution for The Polar Express.

* Very Important Points (2 versions - includes differentiated support) - Students will collect very important points from the text on sticky notes, then use transition words to write a complete summary.

* Story Elements Spinner - Copy this spinner on cardstock for a fun way for students to practice retelling the story with friends.

* Metacognitive Awareness Check-In - Students will select a reading strategy they used to help them understand the text, then write a paragraph explaining how this strategy helped.

* Story Retelling Checklist - The teacher can use this checklist as a formative assessment for students' retelling skills.

* Comprehension Check - Students will answer questions about the text in complete sentences. Includes questions that activate higher-ordered thinking skills and an answer key.

* Venn Diagram - Students can use this graphic organizer to compare the book and the movie.

Vocabulary Building Activities and Centers
L.2.4, L.3.4, L.4.4
* Vocabulary words include: approve, conductor, flicker, gather, harness, hiss, lurch, insist, roam, rustle, struck, valley

* Vocabulary Match Game

* Vocabulary Foldable Flash Cards and/or Fan-N-Pick Center

* Foldable Interactive Notebook vocabulary pages

* Vocabulary Worksheets - Definition Match, Draw It!, and Complete Sentences

Dictionary Skills Center
L.2.4e, L.3.2g, L.4.4c
Students will shuffle the cards and place them facedown in a pile. They will take turns reading the card aloud, then find each word in the dictionary. They will use the recording sheet to write the word, part of speech, definition, and guide words.

ABC Order Center and Worksheet
Prerequisite skill for L.2.4e, L.3.2g, L.4.4c
Students will build the train by putting the words in ABC order, then record their answers on their recording sheet.

Long A Word Sort Center
RF.2.3b, RF.3.3, RF.4.3
Students will sort long A words to determine which words use the ai / ay / eigh spelling patterns.

Synonym Sort (3 versions)
L2.5b, L.3.5, L.4.5c
Students will match the words on marshmallows to their synonyms on the hot chocolate mugs. This game has 3 different complete sets, so it can be completed multiple times to reinforce the concept.

Shades of Meaning (6 worksheets)
L.2.5b, L.3.5c, L4.5
Students will sort sets of words with similar meanings and rate from the weakest to the strongest.

Simile and Metaphor Scoot (2 recording sheet options)
L.3.5, L.4.5a
Students will be able to play SCOOT to practice identifying similes and metaphors. This game has cards for up to 30 players, including blank versions if you have more than 30 students.

Word Building (5 worksheets)
Students can build words from longer seasonal words.

Writing Prompts
L.2.1, L.2.2b, RL.2.3, L.3.1, L.3.2, L.3.2c, L.4.1, L.4.2
* Dear Santa (Persuasive Letter) - Students will write a persuasive letter to Santa Claus convincing him that he must bring them a specific present.

* A Magical, Midnight Ride (first person descriptive narrative) - Students will write a descriptive narrative from first person point of view to describe their magical midnight journey. They will use sensory details to make the story come alive.

* Santa Chit Chat (written dialogue) - Students will write a small dialogue exchange between themselves and Santa Claus using the correct punctuation.

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Christmas Math Center - Multiplication
Aligned with 3.OA.A.1

Christmas Math Center - Fact Families
Perfect for practicing fact families with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

Christmas Math Center - Multiplication Match
Common Core Aligned 3.OA.C.7 - Multiplication Perfect Squares
Total Pages
108 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
Know spelling-sound correspondences for additional common vowel teams.
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.


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