Happy New Year! Two New Year Classroom Activities

Celebrating the start of a new year has always been a favorite holiday of mine. During this time of year, in most countries I’ve lived in, regardless of religion, a country’s true culture rings through in song, festivals, and food. What a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and reminisce about the year gone by while looking forward to the year to come! So, be it the Gregorian New Year on 1 January, Vietnam’s Tết usually celebrated in February, or Ethiopia’s Enkutatash celebrated in September, it’s out with the old and in with the new for everyone!

Here are some short activities you might want to use in your classes to help students celebrate 2014 and anticipate the new year. Feel free to modify and adapt anything below. If you use something that works, share in the comment box below this blog post!

1. Ah, to reminisce: Students share some of their favorite classroom events of 2014.

Prepare several pieces of scrap paper with questions words (Who? What? When? Why? Where? How?). Using the scrap paper, have students write down two or three of their favorite moments of 2014. These moments should be classroom or school related. However, if they want to write something like “Germany winning the 2014 Fifa World Cup,” that’s okay because many classmates might remember that. (If they write something like “My nana breaking her hip,” though, this might not be as memorable to most classmates.) Collect all the events and put them in a box.

Create groups of three or four students. Each group should choose several events from the box. Each group then decides which event to reenact for the class. Similar to charades, those not performing will have to guess what event is being reenacted. However, the group that is enacting can use words, just not the words on the event card. The group that guesses the correct event wins a point.

2. The year to come: Monthly inspiration in 2015 (This activity works best if students are seated in a circle.)

Print out enough blank calendars (.docx) for 2015. Give each student a calendar, and have them start with the month of January. Students should put a general, achievable goal or some words of encouragement in the January box. To help with inspiration, give students a topic or theme to generate the goal or encouraging thought, for example: a vacation in Ireland, a sporting event, a 12-hour plane flight, or time with friends at the beach. After 2 minutes, students should pass the calendar to the person at their right (make accommodations for noncircular seating arrangements). Once everyone has a new calendar, they should add a new encouraging statement or goal in February (give a topic or theme, if need be). Then pass to the right…keep going until all 12 months are complete.

Collect all pages from the students and put them in a folder that you keep with you. As the year progresses, if students are struggling with a topic to write about or subject to talk about, go to this folder. Depending on the month, allow them to pick one of the goals or encouraging words to expand on. That way, your students will never be able to use the excuse “I don’t know what to write/talk about.”

I hope your 2015 is filled with an abundance of health and happiness.

About ssahr

Sarah Sahr works at TESOL and is currently pursuing her doctorate in education administration and policy at the George Washington University. Her professional career has taken her all over the world, most notably as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia and as a traveling school teacher/administrator with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Sarah is also a certified ashtanga yoga instructor and has managed an eco-lodge in Chugchilan, Ecuador.
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