Welcome to a new year. We’ve always thought of January as a good time to go back to goals we may have made for ourselves at the beginning of the school year and to start or try a new routine or ritual in our classrooms.
We are taking our own advice with the first blog post of each month this year. We’ve decided to give you a run-down of the month’s special days and a few ideas to help tie some of those to your classroom activities. January is jam-packed with fun stuff so here it goes!
January happens to be National Hobby Month. Continue building relationships with and among students by taking some class meeting time to have students share what their hobbies are. You can do a few each time you meet as a group. Make sure you share your hobbies and interests too. They want to know.
January 1st marks the day the first American flag was raised in 1776 and the opening of Ellis Island 116 years later. It also happens to be the birthday of both Paul Revere and Betsy Ross – crazy, right?! While the actual date has past you have an opportunity to circle back on the 17th with Ben Franklin’s birthday and to spend the month talking a bit about flags and their symbols (start with your own state flag!) and immigration during your social studies minutes. All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel by Dan Yaccarino is a fun title to introduce this concept. Asking students to conduct interviews with family members to find out about their own family’s roots is an easy way to make it personal to each child.
Technology day is January 6th. Use it as an opportunity to begin teaching your students something they will need to be good at for the rest of their lives – research! No groaning on this one – how else will they be able to buy the best washing machine when they are adults? 😊 We’ll make it a little easier to get started. Visit the blog Minds in Bloom by Rachel Lynette and check out her post: 6 Secrets to Successful Research with Kids here. Whether you like it or not, most state standards have shared and independent research projects as part of their framework so you might as well jump in.
Got stickers? We are betting on it because January 13th is National Sticker Day. Have students create patterns using stickers on scrap paper and then pass to a friend to complete. You can also place index cards or sentence strips with sticker patterns on them in a center and have students continue those patterns with the same stickers.
January 15th has been dubbed Hat Day. Believe it or not, there’s opportunity for a literacy lesson here! Begin a conversation about idioms which you can continue daily. We have all heard the phrase: he/she wears many hats (refers to a person who does many jobs within an organization or group). As adults, we use idioms in our conversations daily and don’t give it a second thought, but kids might not know what they mean. Ask students what they think it means and clarify as necessary. Then, each day, begin your literacy period with a new idiom and it’s meaning. A favorite kid-friendly title to get you started here is In a Pickle and Other Funny Idioms by Marvin Terban. It not only gives you the idiom and its meaning but also the history behind it all in just a paragraph. By the way, familiarity with idioms will help students’ reading comprehension – authors use them all the time!
Keep the good vibes going at the end of the month with National Compliment Day on January 24th. Encourage students to give compliments to each other on this day and every other by making a point of doing so yourself. Try to steer away from complimenting physical characteristics and focus on actions and deeds.
This month’s special days wrap up on the 29th with Puzzle Day. This brings to mind using all variety of puzzles in your classroom. Create word searches or crossword puzzles using spelling or vocabulary words at Puzzle-Maker or put good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzles out for students to complete. These are great for spatial awareness. Depending on the age of your students, you may want to make things like Sodoku available to your kids and Hidden Picture Puzzles from Highlights Magazine are always a hit. Did you know they have versions for preschoolers, adults, and bi-lingual learners? Check it out here!
This month looks great. We hope we’ve inspired you to try a few new things.