As I’m writing this post my whole neighborhood (and city for that matter) is dressed in white so it definitely feels a lot more like Christmas than January 10. It is however the beginning of another month, a special one like every other month since there are always reasons to celebrate, add a touch of magic to our classes and also raise our students’ awareness. As I’ve already mentioned here, there are special days calendars in many sites online (including the one put together by Michelle Henry) so I’m sure there might be even more ideas and suggestions for special activities out there.
Let’s see what we could focus on in January!
- New Year’s Resolutions & Self-reflection activities (New Year’s Eve & Day): For such activities click here: NEW YEAR’S ACTIVITIES 1, NEW YEAR’S ACTIVITIES 2, SELF-REFLECTION ACTIVITIES. It’s very important for our students to realize that they are the ones who should design their own individual path to learning. Activities that focus on them reflecting, visualizing their future and setting goals help them do exactly that!
- And a really fast no-prep activity on resolutions: Students simply write down 1-3 resolutions/hopes/wishes for the new year, crumple their pieces of paper and then throw them at each other (as if they were playing snowball fight) for 1 minute. Once the minute is over each student needs to pick up a piece of paper close to them and try to guess which one of their classmates wrote the resolutions on the paper.
- My Winter Walk – Observing & Recording: This is an ideal outdoor activity especially if it has just snowed in your area. Students just need their mobile phones or a piece of paper and a pen (if it’s not too cold!) and take photos/take notes of how nature in the area around their school changed. This could also turn into a great “compare-contrast” activity especially if you or your students have older pictures of their area in their phones.
- Creating your own meme (World Laughter Day): This is an alternative writing activity that your students will definitely enjoy. You only need to download a meme generator app (like this one) or go to a meme creator online like this one here. You could give your students a selection of different topics for eg. “school life”, “best friends”, “homework” etc. Below you can see a meme I created for my students on the topic of -what else?- “homework:. Memes are also great if you want to teach adjectives, especially adjectives describing character. Finally, you could also use memes as a creative story writing task and ask your students to create a story in memes!
- Teaching Respect (Martin Luther King Day): I’ve used a number of activities on equality and respect, from mini films, Aretha Franklin’s song of the same title to R-E-S-P-E-C-T acrostic poems. But this year I’m thinking of using Meryl Streep’s speech in the Golden Globes’ ceremony (if you haven’t watched it yet, click here) and ask my students to think of incidents of injustice they’ve been witness to in their own lives and write a similar speech in pairs or groups.
- Civil Rights Movement (Martin Luther King Day): There are tons of activities available online devoted to this special day. These are just some of the many links I’ve come across while looking for ideas: link 1, link2, link 3, link 4 with extras here. Makebeliefscomix has – as always- a wonderful selection of printables that you can use. What I’m thinking of doing this year is to use quotes from Dr King’s speech (you can watch the whole speech here) along with Jewel’s song “Hands” and Ben Harper’s song “With my own two hands” (the songs can be found here and here). With my younger students we will trace and cut out their hands in different colors. Then, we will listen to the two songs. My students will decide which one of the two songs they like best and write their own songs/poems using the chosen song’s melody as their guide inside the paper hands.With older classes we will select parts of the songs along with Dr King’s quotes to write a letter to politicians around the world on what they should do to treat people more equally. Celebrating Martin Luther King Day also prepares the ground for Black History Month in February! (I’ve already started looking for inspiration here)
- Winter cooking in class: Preparing something simple in class not only creates a warm atmosphere, but it’s also a great opportunity to practise sensory vocabulary and cooking verbs. Two very simple recipes you could try is to prepare hot cocoa (with a ton of extension activities here of course) or a soup. In case you decide to go for the second, you could either use one of the ready-made soup mixtures available or ask each of your students to bring a Ziploc bag of cut vegetables (one type of vegetable per student) so that you could cook the soup together at school. Soups are also a great way to practise numbers or shapes! 🙂