I haven't even finished my Christmas shopping yet and I'm already thinking about ringing in the new year. I cannot believe it's almost 2016! (Remember how weird it was to say the year 2000 after all those decades of 19's? That took me a long time to get used to.)
In between all of my shopping and thinking-about-shopping, I finished putting together a set of my favorite classroom activities for celebrating the new year with the children. It's a collection of ideas we do on the first day when we return back to school in January. We spend the whole day locked in the theme of "Happy New Year!" There's an idea for each subject area (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies). Plus, I head over to Pinterest and fill in the rest of the day with 1 or 2 art projects (like DIY noise makers) and a few holiday read-alouds. You can find out more at this post: Celebrating the New Year.
You can schedule the day in any way that suits your needs the best, but I recommend starting by making this Countdown Clock & Ball Drop because you'll need to use it throughout the day. It's a fun way to count down to dismissal (just like you count down to midnight on New Year's Eve). I've also included some really fun holiday-themed brain breaks for your class to do each hour, on the hour, as you continue to move the hands on your clocks. It culminates in a "Ball Drop" near the end of the day... just before dismissal... with everyone shouting, "Happy New Year!" and hugging each other.
(The templates and directions for the Countdown Clock are provided.)
Don't forget to do a brain break each hour when you move your clock hands... it really helps the students stay aware of the time and they learn to gauge how long an hour is. You can do your favorite brain breaks or try some of the holiday ideas in the set:
• Rock Around the Clock
• "BE" Baby New Year
• The "NOT YET" Ball Drop
• Hoppin' Johns
• Boom Sizzle Fireworks (our favorite!)
• Kickin' It with Auld Lang Syne
There are also opportunities to read and write as children learn vocabulary words like resolution, traditions, symbols, and goals while thinking critically about their own plans for the new year.
And you know how much I love science. The day wouldn't be complete without an investigation of some kind. We make Cotton Candy Punch and then use it to make a toast to whole-class goals we wrote earlier in the day.
It looks a little something like this.
(They're amazed at how the cotton candy disappears... and SO quickly!)
If you'd like to see more about these ideas, you can check it out HERE.
And HAPPY NEW YEAR! :)