Students go for a ride on the Jingle Bell Express

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 22, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SPENCER — All aboard!
Rowan County kindergartners became passengers of the Jingle Bell Express during recent field trips to the North Carolina Transportation Museum.
Jane Creech, elementary curriculum specialist with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, said students traveled to the museum after reading Chris Van Allsburg’s popular children’s book, “The Polar Express.”
“They now know what it is like to board and ride a train with many passengers, have their ticket punched, feel the slow crawl as the train begins to inch along the track and then the lurch as it gains momentum,” she said. “They hear and feel the rhythmic ‘chug-chug’ and see the world go by as they gaze out the windows.”
Creech said the ride offers the children a connection to both the characters and the setting of the book.
“Concepts and information they have read and talked about suddenly become clear, and knowledge is extended because they have had a real-life connection through this experience,” she said.
After the train ride, students rotated between three stations.
At one station they learned about the types of travel, from Conestoga wagons to small wooden boats to the vehicles of today.
Another station included an art activity where students were asked to depict what the children riding the Polar Express might have seen when they looked out the window of the train on the way to the North Pole.
But it’s not all work and no play. Students got to enjoy hot cocoa and sugar cookies at another station.
Before the visit to the museum, students learned about the characters, setting, details and sequence of events in “The Polar Express.”
Creech said they also developed new vocabulary and talked about how the author’s word choice helps paint a picture of the events that unfold.
The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation provided funds for the trip through a grant. Creech said the trip was also made possible by donations from CiCi’s Pizza, Harris Teeter and Krispy Kreme.
The field trip is designed and facilitated by the district’s elementary department and the staff of the transportation museum.
“Many transportation museum volunteers have been involved to make this project work for our students,” Creech said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.