Simple and Fun Polar Express “Train”

It’s almost holiday break for the kiddos and that means Polar Express Day is coming up, this a yearly tradition at my kiddos school which is on the last day before break. All the students are encouraged to wear their pajamas and enjoy a fun day in their classrooms either reading The Polar Express or watching the movie. It’s a great way to kick-off the holidays. But the most exciting part of the day is the Kindergarten parade. All the Kindergarten students make their very own Polar Express Train to parade through the school and all the classes line the hallways to cheer them on. It really is quite a show. And this year is exciting for our little Cruzin family as my youngest is taking part in it! So I wanted to share our creative, fun, yet simple DIY “train”.

Polar Express Train

Like I said we kept it fairly simple with our “train” this time around. Having experience from when my daughter did the same project a few years ago (ok more like 5 years) we had an idea of what the project consisted of and what did and didn’t really work the first time around. Well with my daughter’s we did a “go big or go home” train. We made out of fairly large boxes a very Christmas themed train complete with smoke stack, wheels, and lots of wrapping paper. I for one did not enjoy working with wrapping paper, so this time around I wanted to see about either using duck tape or painting. I also did not want to go very big like we did before as we had a lot of trouble trying to find a way for my daughter to wear her train by using ribbon and strings. So small it is but I knew that building a little replica train even out of boxes can sometimes be a little complicated. I knew with my son’s personality he needed a train to match. So we started talking with him and throwing out ideas and scrolling Pinterest (of course that’s like the holy grail for craft projects!). My little guy got pretty excited to make something Star Wars related but I started to think we were heading to a lot of complicated work and if that was the case we should just do a train. Then while out at Target (I practically live at this store lol), I saw some Peanuts holiday gear and it was like a little lightbulb went off. My Snoopy loving kiddo could do the famous red doghouse. It’s simple, unique, and easily associated with the holidays with the help of some added details.

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We started with a simple file box we already had and cut out the bottom of it and the folding inside of it, saving the cut outs for later. Next up my son and I painted the entire outside of the box red with some inexpensive paint from Walmart. It took a couple coats to try to hide the boxes blue bottom and black writing. After letting the paint dry, I outlined the box with black paint making the outline a little wobbly to give it the cartoon feel. I added some lines on the sides as well in this style to give it the wood look. On the front my son helped me paint the “door” and above it we placed vinyl letter stickers (this was so nice to skip painting each letter).

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Next was to make the box actually look like a doghouse and this turned out to be a lot simpler than we expected. So with the scraps from cutting out the bottom of the box we made two triangle pieces. The pieces were painted and attached to the box using tape (a lot of it since we only have basic tape, packing tape or duck tape would probably work best) and some of the other box scraps to give the pieces support. For straps we used my sons suspenders which clipped perfectly to the inside of the box. We are able to adjust the length easily with them and they are very sturdy.

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Next up was the roof itself, so for that we went out and got a basic poster board. We cut the poster board in half and cut like a half circle to each side. We then taped the halves together and painted both the top and bottom red then did the same black outline that was on the box. The roof is a completely separate piece that just sits on top of the triangle pieces. This will make transporting the “train” to school easier.

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Finally it was time to add some Christmas-y details. I spotted these really great Christmas light necklaces where the bulbs are large and have a vintage feel to them but at around $10 a necklace they were way out of budget. So my spouse decided to look up some pics of similar projects and got the great idea to make some out of construction paper. This really worked out great and saved me on going and buying more paint. He made two different styled stencils; one the shape of a bulb with a top and the other just a basic bulb shape. He cut the backing of the bulbs from black paper and then made a mix of the bulbs from yellow, blue, green, purple, and reddish pink construction paper. After he glued the colors to the backs, I found some old glitter glue in the crafting box to give the bulbs a little shine. Dad and the little guy then glued the finished bulbs to the roof and I painted the black “light string”. To really give the doghouse a Christmas feel we added snow. This was so easy but very messy! We just coated areas with glue (like pools of it) and shook a bag of “snow” we found at Target in the holiday area, it looks like it is used for little Christmas town displays or for in a snow globe. We shook the snow onto the glue over another box to catch all the excess, there was still some mess but this really helped contain the most of it. And this was the finishing touch.

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The only real thing left to do was to see it all together! We are all so excited at how it turned out.

The finished "train"!

The finished “train”!

With a new pj set on and his Snoopy by his side, our little Charlie Brown is more than ready for Polar Express Day!

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