When students return from winter break in January, it is so important to hit the ground running with fun hands-on activities that keep them engaged! After all, the time we have with this group of kinders is starting to dwindle after that first semester is over. If you are like me, you still have PLENTY of content to cover. With the right January learning activities, you can help students get back into the swing of their kindergarten routine, while also making sure that they are getting back to learning as soon as possible.
January Literacy Activities
One of my favorite ways to keep students engaged, regardless of what month it is, is with fun thematic activities that are seasonally appropriate. For January learning in kindergarten, that means we are focusing on all things winter like snowmen, penguins, and other cold weather animals. I LOVE to bring those themes into fun literacy activities.
For example, we practice literacy skills, such as sight words and letter recognition, with fun Find & Color activities that incorporate winter scenes. First, students look at the coloring guide to see what color each word or letter should be. Then, they color the picture according to that guide. Activities like these where students are coloring with a purpose are perfect for getting students re-accustomed to the classroom, without having to sacrifice any learning time.
In a similar way, I include winter themes in my January Morning Tub Activities for literacy. Students can match first sounds with corresponding pictures while also piecing together a snowman. Or, they can complete an uppercase and lowercase letter match with adorable winter snow globes. By keeping literacy activities on theme, they are even more engaging for students!
January Math Activities
Many of the January math activities I like to use are similar to our literacy activities. For instance, we can use find and color activities to practice number recognition. Keeping the activities similar, while addressing different skills, helps keep students learning, without making things too difficult for them as they get used to being back at school.
This is true for my math morning tub activities as well. As I mentioned with the literacy activities, I like to use fun winter themes for each activity. However, just because the themes are new, doesn’t mean the activities are new. Because I use similar activities in my morning tubs each month, they are familiar to students. In fact, they may have already seen the same activity before we went on break, but with a Christmas theme. Now they are able to continue that same learning with a winter theme!
Students can even use hands-on activities like fine motor practice to address math skills for January learning. For example, they can roll dice and put that same number of playdough “marshmallows” in hot chocolate or use playdough to build numbers on a ten frame. Although activities like this feel like play, they are a great way to get students back into using their important skills that they may not have been practicing over break.
January STEM and Drawing Activities
Another fun, hands-on way to incorporate winter themes with January learning in kindergarten is with STEM and drawing activities. First, I give my students some common classroom materials like pom poms and construction paper. Then, I give them a task like building an ice skating rink for skaters. This helps students to get their problem solving skills working because we will be using them for the rest of year!
Similarly, students also need to practice their listening and direction-following skills. A great way to give students practice with those skills in a fun way is with a directed drawing. When drawing something like a penguin, students have to follow each step in order to have a finished product. This serves as a good reminder to follow directions carefully. As an added bonus, I also like to let my students write a sentence or two to accompany their drawings. This gives them an opportunity for literacy practice, as well. While STEM and drawing activities may not seem as beneficial when it comes to math and literacy skills, they are great ways to get students back in the swing of using other important kindergarten skills like problem solving and following directions.
When students return to school after break, it is important to choose the right types of January learning activities. This not only keeps them engaged but also eases them back into the learning process. For this reason, I like to choose activities that are seasonally appropriate, new but familiar, and also hands-on. I try to make sure we are working on important kindergarten skills as soon as possible. We do not want to waste any of our precious time together!