Watch This, Do That: The Polar Express

Explore the true meaning of Christmas by watching the 2004 version of this classic holiday story and participating in activities based on its themes with Watch This, Do That: The Polar Express.

Our hero of The Polar Express is a boy on the precipice of his thoughts about Santa. His younger sister still believes in the magic of the season, but it isn’t until a late-night harrowing adventure that he learns to see Santa as more than a bearer of presents. When the movie was made in 2004, its creation was a combination of live action and animation, making the movements of the characters more life-like.

Every kid on the Polar Express train has a different sort of experience and is there for different reasons. Our hero meets several children his age, and some even younger, who need Santa for different reasons. After watching The Polar Express, here are a few topics to discuss with kids:

  • Which character are you most like? Our hero — who isn’t named in the movie — meets a number of different kids and adults on the train. Who does your child most identify with? The girl with Christmas cheer? The lonely boy? The know-it-all? Or the rocker elf? Talk about the characteristics you see in each child and if your kid knows anyone at school like any of those people.
  • What is your lesson? Just like every character is different, so is each lesson that they take away from their trip to the North Pole. The girl is encouraged to lead, the know-it-all is encouraged to learn and the lonely boy is encouraged to rely on himself. Wins, losses and experiences give us all lessons. So what did your kids learn from the movie?
  • It’s always OK to believe. In the end, the hero explains that eventually all of his family and friends stopped hearing the ringing of the sleigh bell. The hero still heard it, because he believed in the spirit of Christmas in his heart. No matter the opinions of your child’s peers, their belief in Santa, a religion, a faith or even a specific dream is his or hers to own.

Movie-inspired activities

Photo credit: Rainy Day Mum

Now that you’ve seen The Polar Express, try these screen-free activities inspired by the movie.

  • Read the book. Before it became a holiday cinematic classic, The Polar Express was a book by Chris Van Allsburg published in 1958. Add it to your holiday reading list.
  • Drink hot cocoa. The newest 2020 winter craze is making and drinking a hot chocolate bomb. Pick one up or make a few from a great recipe to enjoy with the book or movie.
  • Make holiday cards. Encourage family members to “believe” or “lead” or punch their own ticket with these cute Christmas card crafts.
  • Donate toys. The character of the Lonely Boy reminds us that not every child enjoys Christmas the same way. Help fill the stockings of someone less fortunate and let your kids help pick out a new toy to donate at a toy drive.

Have a Watch This, Do That idea you want to share with our readers? Send your idea to with your suggestion for a movie. We’d love to share your idea on


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