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January 14, 2023

Powerful January Activities and Resources for Your Classroom: Winter, Penguins, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I don't know about you, but when January begins, I always feel a bit fuzzy-headed when it comes to school. I'm so busy trying to remember my normal routines and procedures that I can't always remember some fun, incredible lessons and activities. This year, I have planned ahead so both your students and mine can benefit!

These Incredible January Activities and Resources for Your Classroom will get both you and your students excited to be back at school!

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I admit I am going to start off with some books. For some of you, you might think I am nuts to include them on a list with Incredible January Activities and Resources! If you do think that, I must respond that I think it's nuts not to include them! I am a true bookworm at heart! There's magic in a good book!

Picture Books to Read

These books are just a few in my library that we ALWAYS read each year. I use the books to teach our skills of the day - problem/solution, character traits, sequencing, and so much more. Sometimes, I just read a book because it's fun! Shh...don't tell anyone!




Teaching students about penguins allows you to prepare students for testing because of the books that are nonfiction. Plus you can compare and contrast texts using fiction and nonfiction books.


Besides reading picture books, there are so many activities to do involving penguins...

  • There are 17-19 different types of penguins found in the southern hemisphere. This makes for an exciting research project for students. To help with the research, here are some student-friendly websites - KidZone Penguins and Penguin World
  • Instead of research (or in addition to), you may want students to view live penguin cams from the San Diego Zoo and the Kansas City Zoo.
  • Teach students fact and opinion through task cards. Fact and opinion is a great skill to teach before students write either an opinion piece or a research paper. Knowing the difference in what to include is extremely important. Click on the picture below to see more!

Penguin Fact and Opinion Task Cards

Want students to figure out how penguins keep warm in cold weather and water? Then try this Blubber Experiment!
  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  2. Open a gallon-size Ziploc bag and fill it with Crisco.
  3. Place another gallon bag inside. (This keeps hands from getting "blubber" on them.
  4. Have students compare and contrast having one hand in the ice water and one hand in the "blubber."


These books are definitely for fun. However, all of them are good for teaching different skills


There usually is a ton of snow in January around here (although last year it didn't snow until March), so I do a winter unit with a focus on snow, snowmen, and migration. 

A quick activity is a "Snowball Fight." You can do this with any subject. 
  1. Students create questions about the topic of your choosing. 
  2. They then crumple the papers. 
  3. Throw the papers around to have a snowball fight. 
  4. When the snowball fight is over, students can answer the questions.

Want more ideas???
  1. Make "snow" - Mix 2 cups of baking soda and 1/2 cup of conditioner to make snow. 
  2. STEM project - Students can build a snowflake or an igloo from marshmallows. 
  3. Have students write steps in making a snowman. This is a great How-to writing assignment.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


There are so many things that you can do to honor Dr. King's life. It's difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few favorites...
  1. After reading Martin's Big Words, break students into teams. Give them cups and markers. Students need to think of as many synonyms to describe Dr. King as possible. Each time they think of a word, they can write it on a cup. With their cups, each team has to create the tallest tower that they can!
  2. Check out My Friend, Martin. It's about an hour cartoon and can be found on YouTube.
  3. Watch Kid President explaining Dr. King's life.
  4. Compare/contrast the books written by Dr. King's family members (his sister and son both wrote books about him - see the bottom row of MLK books above).
  5. Students can learn facts about Dr. King even during math time, click on the picture below to see more.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Subtraction Review Fun

What seasonal activities do you like to do in January with your students?

January brings about a fresh start to the school year. This blog post brings a roundup of resources and activities for celebrating Dr. King's life, teaching penguins, and having fun with snow. Make the rest of the school year a fun one with this start. Inside you will find books, STEM activities, writing activities, hands-on activities, and more. #confessionsofafrazzledteacher {Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders}

January 1, 2023

3 Activities for Surviving the First Week After Winter Break

Confessions of a Frazzled Teacher

It's tough to go back to school after enjoying a nice winter break! If you are like me, you will have forgotten everything - passwords, routines, where anything is, etc. Just thinking about everything I need to remember gives me anxiety.

Now, think about your students. I'm sure they haven't thought about school, let alone thinking about routines and procedures.

Because of this, it's important to really focus on reteaching your expectations with students. Do not just count on your students knowing what to do. Spend as much time as you need to get your students back on track with what you want from them. 

This time spent will be well worth it in the long run.

Please note: There are links to products in this blog post. Using them will not cost you anything but may earn me a small commission if you make a purchase. will totally make my day!

My Favorite Ways to Survive the First Week of School After a Break

1. Reviewing Procedures Carousel

This is one of my favorite activities to complete after a break since it has almost no prep and gets students moving. This activity will definitely get your students remembering the classroom rules!

Materials Needed: Chart Paper and Markers



  1. Brainstorm a list of places your students spend a lot of their time: classroom, lunchroom, bathroom, hallway, etc. Write these places on top of the chart paper. (This can be done ahead of time or with students.)
  2. Then divide students into groups and send them to a paper. They get a small amount of time, like 3-4 minutes, to write as many things as they can to show behavior, how they should act, what they should look like in these locations, etc.
  3. Next, rotate the groups to a different location. They repeat the steps of adding information but first have to read what is already written. They should not duplicate information. This gets students to think beyond the basics. It gets more complicated as each group cycles through. Because of this, I add time in each rotation (like 5-7 minutes). 
  4. Once all groups have cycled through all the locations, we come together to share what was learned. 

Helpful Tips: 

  • Give each group a certain color marker so you know who has contributed what information.
  • Pair higher readers with lower readers to make this activity run smoothly.
  • Discuss your expectations ahead of time to keep it from being a free for all! This activity will be loud, but it works well!

2. Procedure Pantomime

This is another activity that will get your students thinking about behavior. Unlike the first activity, this one can last all week...all month...or all school year if your students need it!

Materials Needed: Index Cards and a Pen (or marker)



  1. Have students brainstorm a list of basic rules/procedures. You can also write down scenarios that took place at the beginning of the year that made you unhappy. These may include things like not pushing in chairs, yelling out in class, etc.
  2. Write these down on note cards. Put only one rule, procedure, or scenario on each card.
  3. Pull these note cards (a few each day) and have students act out the scenarios in two ways. First, have students exaggerate what not to do. Everyone will laugh because of the ridiculousness. Then redo the scenario correctly (always end on the correct note). The visuals will definitely give students a reminder of how they should act! 

3. New Years Goal Setting

I love setting goals with my students. It's important for them to think about positive ways they can improve.


  1. Print out the task cards and recording sheet. (Click on the picture below to get these free!)
  2. Place the task cards around the room.
  3. Have students walk from card to card answering the questions.
  4. Meet back as a group to discuss their answers.
New Years Task Cards

What are you doing the first week back after your break?

The first week after a long break is tough! Teachers need to reestablish procedures and routines. This blog post contains 3 activities to do with students after a long break (like Winter Break). These activities are all low prep/no prep, making planning easy for teachers. Bonus!!! There is a freebie included! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher {Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders; classroom management; January lesson planning}