The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

Looking Ahead to the New Year: Ideas for the First Week of the New Year


new-year-imageWhat teacher or student doesn’t have some anxiety and sadness when the wonderful December holiday vacation comes to a close and it is time to get back into the routine of school?

Be proactive and prepare for that first week NOW. Create an easier transition for you and your students with fun activities that will put a smile on everyone’s face! Although it is prudent to immediately re-establish classroom rules and academic routines, be sure to carve out some time for creativity and fun!

Here are some simple ideas to “lasso” all that fresh New Year’s energy into productive and fun learning activities.

Make a New Year’s Time Capsule

image of time capsule project for the classroom

From Fabulous in Fifth blog

  • First, locate a large can, jar, bottle, etc.
  • Grades K–1: Have students trace their hands or feet and do a writing sample on the paper. On the last day of school, the students can see if they have grown and how much their writing skills have improved!
  • Grades 2–8: Have students write a New Year’s resolution or academic goal on a slip of paper. Brainstorm ideas on a chart that are specific and measurable. The students can then roll their resolutions/goals in a scroll and deposit them in the time capsule. The students could also write predictions about how much snow or rain their community will have until the last day of school, how many snow days they will have, how many books they will read, etc. They could also write an essay about what they hope to accomplish by the end of the year.
  • Last of all, have students place their work in the time capsule, dig a hole in the school garden, and bury it! Or, have your class see you lock it in a file cabinet, deliver it to the principal’s office for storage, wrap it with secure ribbon, etc.
  • Imagine the excitement when your students open the time capsule on the last day of school!

Make snowflakes, snowmen, and other winter art projects for the classroom

image of group of ice skaters craft project from Evan-Moor

From Evan-Moor’s Art for All Seasons

Here are some free resources:



From National Wildlife Federation

Celebrate “Penguin Awareness Month”


Begin Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

image of bulletin board for Dr. Martin Luther King

From Evan-Moor’s Seasonal Bulletin Boards


From Teaching with Style blog

From Teaching with Style blog

Finally, here are some Evan-Moor book suggestions for January:

book cover of January theme poecketsJanuary Theme Pockets




Seasonal Activities book coverSeasonal Activities 





Have a healthy, happy new year!

Contributing Writer

Picture of Alice EvansAlice Evans is a forty-year veteran National Board Certified elementary classroom teacher and a published author. She recently retired from the San Diego Unified School District and has published a children’s chapter book entitled Torrey Pines Summer.



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