You need some fun activities that will help celebrate a happy new year with your first grade students, yet help everyone ease back into the school week. Here are 5 easy new year activities for first grade to keep teachers and students happy to be back at school.
Sometimes, that first day back is a day to just get used to being on a schedule. That first day can be a little rough for everyone after the holiday season. After doing a little research around the interwebs, I discovered 5 of the easiest new year activities for first grade.
Easy morning work
Start the day with an easy activity. Print a large bookmarker on heavy, white cardstock with the new year across it. I like to pull out the colored pencils, sparkly crayons and markers to make it feel super special. The bookmark activity also sends the message that reading is important, yet fun.
The empty space on the back of the bookmark would be a perfect spot for students to write their goals for the new year. That will be another easy activity further down on this list, so keep reading.
Baby New Year and Father Time
Who is Baby New Year and Father Time? They are the modern symbols of a year. The origins of the symbolism are not quite known, but there are many clues pointing to Greek mythology.
Together, Baby New Year and Father Time are the personifications of the beginning and end of a year. Each year starts as a brand new baby on January 1st. The year grows into an old man, Father Time, and exists to December 31st of that same year.
We never see the year as a personification of any other ages in between. We only look to the end of a year, Father Time, and the beginning of the next, Baby New Year. The total life span of this fictitious being is one Earth year–365 days (or leap year for 366 days).
The modern version of this folklore is seen in the Christmas movie, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.
Just as Father Time is wise, students can see how they’ve grown in their knowledge and abilities over the past year.
In this new year, ask students to think of things that are hard that they want to learn. Make a goal to try to learn something new by the end of this new year.
Goal setting for first grade students
Let’s talk about an important part of new year activities for first grade…goal setting.
As a teacher, the beginning of January is a perfect time to talk about growth mindset in goal setting. There are lots of great picture books that help you teach a growth mindset. You can find lesson plans to talk about the power of yet and more.
Students can start by reflecting on accomplishments from the previous year. This will help students set personal, attainable goals for this new year.
Ask students to think about how they have grown over the last year. Maybe they got taller or learned how to do something they couldn’t do before, like ride a two-wheel bike or swim.
How have students grown in reading fluency, writing, or math? Ask students to think about when they learned something that was hard. Tell time? Write in cursive? Read a chapter book?
Tell students to write down their goals and keep them. Encourage them to reread their goals often to remind them of what they intend to accomplish this year.
Make a bulletin board full of student drawings and writings that share their goals for the upcoming school year.
Math activities for a happy new year
Pull out the base ten blocks, nonstandard units (paper clips, popsicle sticks, dried beans or rice), standard units (coins, inches, centimeters, grams) and show students what the year looks like.
Here are 5 easy new years activities for 1st grade math talks:
- 365 days (or 366 days in a leap year) in popsicle sticks
- 52 coins for 52 weeks in a year
- 12 pounds for all the months of the year
- Year, ex. 2020 = 20 hundred flats and 2 ten rods
- Weigh and compare each on a scale as you collect the amounts
Gather your items to count or weigh and place them around the classroom as centers that students use to experiment and truly “see” each of the numbers that make up a year.
Counting down to midnight at noon
When students return from the holidays, you can recreate the countdown to midnight…just make it closer to noon instead.
Also, why only count backward by ones. Try other ways of counting!
- Count back from 10, 20 or 30 and jump up in the air on the even numbers
- Do the same as above except jump up in the air on the odd numbers
- Count back starting at 100 and count backward by tens
- Count backward on the decades by tens: 91, 81, 71, 61, 51, 41, 31, 21, 11, 1
- Starting at 50, count back by fives
Good luck in the new year
This alone is one of the more thought-provoking new year activities for first grade.
Have a discussion with your first grade students about what they might do on January 1st with their families. Do they have any traditions to make sure they have a happy new year?
- Throughout Northeast Ohio, many people eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day to bring luck for the year.
- Around other parts of the United States, some southerners eat black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread to bring good fortune for the whole year.
- In Spain, eat one grape for each of the clock strikes at 12.
- The Netherlands eat fried dough balls with raisin or currants.
- Find the pig very good luck in Austria and Germany.
- People of Japan will eat long soba noodles to represent a long life.
- Worldwide, there is a custom of a special sweet cake or dessert with a coin inside. A lucky one will find the coin to be a good fortune for the coming year.
- In Poland, it is very good luck to eat a silver-colored fish called herring.
- If you’re in Denmark or Norway, enjoy a tower of marzipan known as a ring cake.
- Some people believe they should start the new year with a clean home. They may even open a window to let all the bad out and bring the good in.
- Many friends around the world settle for clinking their glasses together in a toast for good luck and a happy new year.
After the discussion, give everyone a small paper cup with apple cider, water or juice. Then, “clink” your glasses to toast in the new year! Wish everyone good luck on making their goals by the end of this year.
Save this list
Those are the recommended five easy new year activities for first grade. If you’re not ready to plan new years, no worries! Just make sure to keep this post handy by pinning it.
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