Oh how I adore The Polar Express. We spent a full week reading and learning about Hanukah. I think my sprouts know much more about the festival of lights than they did before. That being said, I haven’t found a book about Hanukah that is quite as magical as Chris Van Allsburg’s award winning story.
As the cover was displayed, most of the children had some connection. This was a story they were at least familiar with on some level. We learned about Santa and his gift of a bell to the boy in the story. We discovered that his sister could also hear the bell, but his parents could not. As the boy’s sister got older, eventually she couldn’t hear the bell anymore, but the boy always did. He believed.
At the end of the day, we headed out for recess as usual. When we arrived back in the classroom afterwards, I heard the jingling of bells. Then the screams… ‘He was here! Santa was here!’ erupt from the children like the elves in the story upon seeing their mighty leader. Not one child questioned where these bells came from… Santa (or maybe one of his elves) had come to our classroom to deliver each of them an enchanted bell.
I’m not sure when children stop believing. I’m sure at some point I questioned the existence of the plump jolly guy in the red suit. Then something magical happened to me… I started teaching kindergarten. The spirit of the sprouts surrounding me each day began turning the imaginary clock of my soul backwards. Their exuberance and innocence started helping me see the world a little differently. They don’t question, they just believe.
I’ve become a convert. Watching their excitement, enthusiasm, and sheer joy for the season as made me believe again. When they raised their bells in celebration today, I heard them too. Each and every one.