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On Christmas Eve a boy is taken on a mysterious train to the North Pole. The trip to the pole is a glorious experience through dark forests and high mountains. When he arrives, Santa chooses him to be the child that receives the first gift of Christmas. He asks for an receives one bell from the harness of the reindeer. It is with great sadness that he discovers he has lost the bell on the way home. At home he finds the bell again, and learns a special secret about it.
Activity Ideas for Younger Children:
chairs up like a train and sit in this format while reading the story
out blank 'train tickets' for each child to complete and decorate.
each listener a jingle bell to ring whenever the bell is mentioned in
Questions for Discussion:
What would you do if a steam locomotive
pulled up outside your house? How would you feel?
Why do you think the boy chose the bell
as his gift? What would you have chosen if you were in his place?
special objects do you have that are as important to you as the boy's
bell was to him? Why is it important? Older children can write
about their object, explaining why they cherish it. Note that it is
often not the object itself which is important as much as the person
or memory attached to it.
What does the bell
represent in the story? Why can't the boy's parents hear it?
instances of metaphors and similes in the story. (“wrapped in
an apron of steam,” “as thick and rich as melted
chocolate bars,” “the lights of an ocean liner sailing on
a frozen sea,” “like a car on a roller coaster,”“the
train thundered through the quiet wilderness,” “nougat
centers as white as snow” ) Notice how these descriptions help
the story come to life in your imagination.
some ordinary language into more colorful descriptions. Make the
phrases more interesting like the author does in the book:
It's cold. – ex.; The air gripped my lungs with fingers of ice.
The car drove down the street. – ex.; The car screamed down the
street like a fighter jet.
whistle is sounded in an attempt to attract attention to the
train. It is used when persons or livestock are on the track at
other-than-road crossings at grade.
train is stopped. The air brakes are applied and pressure is
releases brakes and proceeds.
of any signal not otherwise provided for.
train is stopped: means backing up, or acknowledgment of a hand
signal to back up.
o o o
request for a signal to be given or repeated if not understood.
o o o
for flagman to protect rear of train.
= = =
flagman may return from west or south.
= = = =
flagman may return from east or north.
= o =
is approaching public crossings at grade with engine in front.
Signal starts not less than 15 seconds but not more than 20
seconds before reaching the crossing. If movement is 45 mph or
greater, signal starts at or about the crossing sign, but not more
than 1/4 mile before the crossing if there is no sign. Signal is
prolonged or repeated until the engine completely occupies the
addition, this signal is used when approaching private crossings
if pedestrians or motor vehicles are at or near the crossing. (In
the states of California, Idaho and Montana, the whistle is
sounded at all crossings, public and private.)
the brake system for leaks or sticking brakes.
is approaching men or equipment on or near the track, regardless
of any whistle prohibitions.
this initial warning, "o o" sounds intermittently until
the head end of train has passed the men or equipment.
Find the North Pole on a globe or in an
atlas. Research facts about the North Pole. What is the average
temperature? Compare and contrast the North Pole and the South Pole.
Try to figure out how you would reach the North Pole if you were to
travel there from your house.