There are so many holidays within the first months of school, sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with themes or activities after December. Here are five themes I am using in my classroom in January…
1. New Year’s
Even though we are not in school on New Year’s Eve or Day, it can be fun to incorporate whenever you return from winter break. I created a social story, bingo game and other activities using LessonPix, based on the New Year’s vocabulary from The Autism Helper’s Winter Vocabulary Unit for Special Education.
Another activity I do each year is having a “Noon Year’s Eve” party with my students. We do the New Year’s countdown to noon on the day we come back to school. I usually buy a New Year’s favor kit on sale in the days after New Year’s so the students can wear a New Year’s hat or crown and use noise makers. I have also had students make confetti in the past to throw up in the air (plus, sweeping up the confetti can be great life skills practice). We are not doing food this year, but in the past we have had sparkling cider and 12 grapes (Spanish New Year’s tradition).
2. Snow Activities
Kids love snow, so having a variety of snow-themed activities for January can be fun and engaging. I’m planning on having students make indoor snow using a visual recipe.
I also found some indoor snowballs that would be good for a variety of games. Since usually we are stuck inside for the winter, we usually utilize the gym or the multi-purpose room to do gross motor and movement activities. Having an indoor snowball fight seems like a fun idea and can be paired with some academic activities including counting, basic math operations or letter/letter sound identification.
3. Braille Literacy
January is National Braille Literacy Month. We have a VI program at our school, so it is a great opportunity to learn from the teachers of the visually impaired about Braille. I have also had students accompany students with VI to the VI room in order to see how students use Braille to read and a Brailler to type. This year, I am going to teach students using the Reading A-to-Z book. “Louis Braille: A Man and His Method” as part of social studies and show them a Go Noodle video about Braille Literacy. Additionally, we will also be making tactile snowmen using a variety of materials including pom-poms, cotton balls, shaving cream, bubble wrap and more.
4. Arctic Animals
I always enjoy teaching students about animals and January is a great time to learn about animals that live in colder climates like the Arctic. Check out The Autism Helper’s “I Spy Arctic Animals” adapted book, which is part of the Winter Adapted Book Series. This book is a great way to help students practice identifying features. Since food chains are a part of our standardized testing, studying Arctic animals now is a great way to prepare for the DLM-AA. I wrote another adapted book about Arctic animals using LessonPix, and developed some activities that helped students learn about different animal habitats.
While writing is something we work on all-year round, January is a good time to revisit writing instruction in your classroom. In the beginning of the year, we are setting up routines and procedures, so sometimes we don’t do as much writing as I would like, so starting some new writing projects can be helpful. We will be working on a few different writing projects in January.
- Sequencing Writing- Winter offers many opportunities to teach students about sequencing, such as how to make a snowman, putting on winter outerwear and making hot cocoa. We act out making a snowman or hot cocoa indoors, but can also begin to write the steps. Using the Winter Themed Sequencing File Folder Activities, I can also start to demonstrate how we write a sequence before students are expected to write a sequence, based on their independence levels.
- National Letter Writing Month- January is National Letter Writing Month. Writing letters can help inspire students to write and create a practice opportunity for social interaction. During the holidays, we often do not get the chance to thank all the staff that supports us throughout the year. January is a great time to teach students about the ways different staff members help us and use writing to thank them for all that they do. Teaching letter writing in January also allows prep time for writing Valentines for classmates in February.
- Seasonal Writing Prompts- Writing prompts can help motivate students to write by creating short, creative practice opportunities that are relevant to the season. Check out the Winter Visual Writing Prompts and Activities, which has 20 writing prompt flashcards and 20 writing prompt worksheets to help inspire interesting winter writing pieces from students.
I hope you were able to get some ideas for January activities for your students. Please share below any ideas you use in your classroom. Stay safe and healthy!