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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!

Disclaimer: Some links are affiliate links; clicking on them may provide compensation for me at no cost to you if you make a purchase. Using them will make me happy too!

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}

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