Happy Holidays to you all! It’s amazing how fast it flies, huh? Already, I’m on my way back to work. I go back on Wednesday, January 4th, so my first week after winter break is only 3 days long. I know that at least 3 of my students won’t be back that week, as they are traveling internationally, and I don’t want to start anything brand new with that many out. So, I decided to work on New Year’s stuff all week. There are so many holidays that get taught in the classroom, but for some reason New Year’s often gets overlooked, even though there are some great content connections. I have a New Year’s Center Packet available on Teachers Pay Teachers for those of you who teach 1st or 2nd grade, but here are 10 ideas to use with New Year’s that could be used with almost any elementary grade level.
10. Resolutions & Goal Setting – New Year’s is always time for a fresh start. It’s a great time to let your kids make resolutions and set goals for the rest of the school year. Not only can this be a writing activity, but it also allows your kids who haven’t been angels behaviorally to start out with a clean slate!
9. Making Predictions – New Year’s is a great time to look back and look forward. Talk about where students were last year at this time, and where they think they’ll be next year at this time. Have students draw a picture of what they think they’ll look like next year, or write a letter to themselves for next year. The kids can then take those home and have their parents put them away for NEXT New Year’s!
8. Create your Own Top 10’s – Around this time of the year, you start to see all the Top 10 Lists. Top 10 Movies, Top 10 Books, Top 10 Political Events. Allow students to make their own Top 10 lists. Older students might be able to choose their best movies, books, etc. Younger students could just as easily choose their Top 10 books read in class or Top 10 games played at recess. Either way, students get a chance to reflect on the previous year and work on writing at the same time.
7. Talk Tenses – With all the looking back and looking forward – this is a great time of the year to talk about past test and future tense! Older students can get into the verbs, younger students can talk about the words “yesterday, today, tomorrow, this year, last year, next year etc.” No matter what level they work on tenses at, it’s a great time of the year to find that “teachable moment”.
6. Calendar Time – Another great “teachable moment” at this time of the year is using calendars, last years and this years! Older students can take a look at what day important events (like Election Day, the first day of the school year or Thanksgiving) fell on last year, and how it will compare this year. Younger students can take time to talk about the days of the week, the months of the year, the seasons, etc.
5. Yearly Math – My son loves to ask me questions like “When I’m 20, how old will you be?” With the turning of the new year, this is a good time for kids to use those math skills on Yearly Math. Come up with problems based on the year – like how old will you be in the year 2020? Or, let the kids come up with the problems and swap with a partner!
4. Counting Down – Whether you drop a ball or not, all kids love a countdown! Count from 10, 100, 1,000, whatever your kids are up to!
3. New Year’s Around the World – We often study the Chinese New Year, but how else is New Year celebrated around the world? Did you know that according to the Islamic New Year – celebrated November 26th this year (date changes due to the Lunar Calendar) – the year is 1433? Or that according to Hindu Tradition, the New Year will occur on April 12th his year (date changes due to Lunar Calendar) and the year will be 5113. Not only are these fun facts that your students might enjoy, but it’s a chance to broaden their horizons! Older students could even work on a group research project on one of the New Year traditions celebrated around the world.
2. Confetti Art – Take all that leftover confetti and let students make art! Have students put glue on their paper (in random order, or on the outside of a design), then sprinkle confetti like you would glitter. Students could also write about what they have made.
1. Party!!! – Take some time to have a New Year’s Eve party with your students. 20 minutes at the end of the day, use some noise makers, have a count down, and a small treat, and let kids “start the year” with you!