It’s the beginning of a new year! The perfect time to start fresh both in and out of the classroom. I don’t know about you, but I love to incorporate holiday and seasonal activities into my schedule. It makes everything so much more exciting and helps out engagement tremendously! These three January activities are the perfect way to get back into the swing of things in the classroom after a long winter break.
There are so many exciting things that happen in January. With holidays like New Year’s and Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the full immersion in winter, there are lots of great ways to engage students in January.
An Array of January Activities for the Elementary Classroom
#1 Seasonal Picture Books
Reading takes us to another place and allows our imaginations to soar, so I love to have a seasonal selection of picture books available for my students. Over the years, I’ve found that students of all ages love a good picture book. And if you didn’t know, most picture books are written at a 4th – 6th grade reading level. So ditch any preconceived notions you have and get those books in the hands of your students!
I like to choose books that connect to the season, holidays, and topics we are learning about. Sometimes these books become part of our lesson and other times they are available for students to read on their own. No matter how you choose to do it, students love connecting with the world around them, and this includes through books.
There’s no shortage of books that you can find about winter and snow. Providing students with a mix of fiction and non-fiction books gives them opportunities to explore the themes and topics in different ways.
One of my time favorite winter books is Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. This wonderful book details the life of Wilson Bentley and his photography of snowflakes. My students love doing a book study on this book and are always amazed at this creative man and his love of snowflakes. This Snowflake Bentley Literature Guide has everything you need to dive deep into this great book.
Another picture book I love to use with my students is The Right Word by Jen Bryant. This book is about Peter Mark Roget and his love for words. This shy, boy soon became the writer of the thesaurus. It’s a great book to use when teaching about word use or as a way to celebrate National Thesaurus Day on January 18.
#2 Celebrate an Unusual Holiday
Students love any excuse to celebrate. So why not engage them by celebrating some fun, silly, and unusual holidays. During the month of January, there are plenty to choose from! You might celebrate National Spaghetti Day on January 4th or Kid Inventors Day on January 17. And . . . there’s plenty more where these come from. A quick Google search for unusual January holidays will provide you with more choices than you know what to do with.
One of my favorite fun holidays in January is National Dress Up Your Pet Day on January 14. I don’t know about you but animals and pets are always hot topics in my classroom. So why not use this pet-themed holiday to engage students in learning. You could have students design an outfit for an animal and then describe it in writing. Or, grab this free reading and writing activity and have your students work on opinion writing.
Easily incorporate unusual holidays in your classroom. If you’re not sure where to start, grab your list of standards and see which fun holidays lend themselves to the standards and skills you need to cover. Be creative! It’s a blast for everyone in January and all year long!
#3 January Writing Activities
If you ask a group of students about their favorite season, winter is likely to be right there at the top. The fun and whimsy of winter is a great thing to bring into the classroom through writing. Choosing a writing prompt with a winter theme is a great way to engage students in writing.
I absolutely love using photos as writing prompts. Having a starting place, like a photo, helps to eliminate the often hard choice of what to write about. Instead of spending their writing time thinking about what to write, they spend their time actually writing.
These Winter Photo Writing Prompts will get your students writing in no time. With a picture and some question prompts students will love writing to these winter writing prompts.
Another winter writing activity that is a hit year after year is the You Can Write a Winter Adventure activity. This guided story writing activity will engage even the most reluctant of writers. Students will be guided through the important writing steps like choosing characters and describing the setting. They will have to choose a problem and then find a way to solve it.
Using tools to help students plan and make decisions about their writing, your students will love this winter narrative writing activity. Whether you choose to complete this winter writing activity on paper or digitally, your students will get some great writing practice while having fun too.
More January Activities
While these are just a few of my favorite January activities, there are so many more! From math and logic puzzles to reading comprehension, you can use the themes of the season to engage students in learning.
Grab more winter-themed activities and your free National Dress Your Pet Up Day opinion writing resource in the member-only Free Resource Library. Just sign-up below to access all the freebies.
Save these January Activities
Be sure to save these January activities to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back all month as you need fun and engaging activities for your January or winter lesson plans.