Polar Express Party at the Library | Compendium
Sarah Applegate

Sarah Applegate Currently Reading: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

by Sarah Applegate

As the holidays approach, I know every children’s librarian is swiftly preparing their holiday story times and various other special activities for the youth room. One of the more popular topics for a holiday program is The Polar Express, which can open the door for all kinds of activities in the library. Here at Coyle, I am planning our first-ever Polar Express Party.

It’s very exciting.

The party will be split into two time periods – the party and the movie. During the party there will be various stations of activities for children to participate in.   A few ideas I am working with are:

1) Snowball Slam – a game in which the child throws a large pom-pom or other soft ball at a stack of white Styrofoam cups decorated like snowmen in order to knock down as many as they can

2) Toss the Coal in the Hole – a game using a large cardboard box with a hole cut in it for the child to throw black bean bags or something similar that resembles coal into

3) Gingerbread Trains – a craft activity in which we make gingerbread trains ( instead of houses) out of graham crackers, frosting, Oreos, and other candies

4) Toilet Paper Tube Trains – a craft for younger children that uses two toilet paper tubes as wheels for a simple cardstock train to sit in

5) A First Aid Kit Making Station where they can get a start on Christmas gifts – everyone needs a first aid kit!

I was approached by MedExpress about setting up a regular program and, in addition to that, have offered them a station for MedExpress (the local walk-in doctor’s office) where kids can make their own First Aid Kits.  This allows MedExpress to get the word out about their new location and have more community involvement.  Various interactive decorations around the room are also planned,  such as a table dressed up like a train and a box full of ornaments to decorate a nearby Christmas tree.  There is an area in the children’s room with a rocking chair and space for children to sit around.  I hope that the conductor, either a staff member or the town mayor, will use that space to read to the children.

About an hour into the party, those who wish to watch the movie will be invited upstairs to our program room.  This room will be decorated like a train car with aisle seating and a carpet down the middle.  Christmas lights will be strung around the ceiling. Light refreshments, such as popcorn, water and hot chocolate, will be served and then the film will be shown. After the movie there will be a special visit from Santa Claus (a staff member who gamely agreed to dress up like St. Nick for the occasion) who will hand out jingle bells to the children.

It’s going to be a good amount of work and preparation but I’m hoping it will be a successful event that we can repeat every year for the holidays. A library tradition, if you will. I plan on having the party twice, once in the morning and once in the evening in order to make it accessible for more families.

It’s also my hope to expand on as many literacies as possible during this program. With the involvement of MedExpress we’ll have a nudge to health literacy as well as the games that require a little more movement.  Basic literacy will be covered with the story and activities.  Civic and social literacy will be addressed with the social interactions with each other and possibly the introduction of Santa Claus.  If the mayor comes to play our conductor it would help the event build community ties.    With our library preparing to renovate, fundraising may come into play.  We are in the midst of raising money and I’ve spoken briefly to our campaign manager about the party and offered her the chance to be involved.

Happy Holidays!