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January Pre-k and Kindergarten Centers and Activities

Looking for fun, skill based activities to keep kids engaged all month long? I have compiled a list of my top 5 favorite Math, Literacy, Science, and STEM activities to do with students this January!

1. Build a snowman - Literacy or Math Craft

I love doing these activities each winter because they are fun, can practice a variety of skills, and always come out looking cute!

No matter what skill you choose to practice, prepping the activity is the same. All you need are large pieces of construction paper cut in half length wise, white paper, glue, and crayons/markers/colored pencils.

You can either cut the circles for students ahead of time or create a few circle templates or something for them to trace and cut out their own circles.

In literacy I like to have students create these sweet little snowmen:

For students still learning how to write their first (or last) name, the name spelling snowman is perfect! Once everyone has created theirs, you can also turn it into a math activity and compare how long each name is and graph your results! 

For students who are ready for sight words, I like for them to create these sight word snowmen. You can either give them a word to practice or they can choose a word that they have recently learned. Students can even write a short sentence using their sight word at the bottom of their snowman. 

For math, students can create snowmen that help them practice counting, patterns, or addition.

To create a counting snowman (not pictured) students can create their snowman, draw a group of buttons, and then write the numeral that represents the quantity of buttons at the bottom.

To create a patterned snowman, students can create a button pattern using alternating colored buttons on the snowman.

To create an addition snowman, students can choose 2 different colors to draw buttons on their snowman then write an addition equation at the bottom showing how many buttons the snowman has in all. 

2. Snowball fight

This is a very fun, low prep activity that gets students up and moving and can be used with pretty much ANY skill you are teaching! To prepare for the snowball fight, gather lots of pieces of white paper (AT LEAST 1 per student but more is better) and write down whatever skill you want students to practice on each sheet. For example, if you want students to practice letter ID, write a different letter on each piece of paper. Ball up each piece of paper into a "snowball" and toss the snowballs around the room.

Here is how I like to play:

When you give the signal, students will race to grab a snow ball and open it up. From that point on, there are two ways you can have your students play:

Find a partner – Students must find a partner that has the snowball that goes with their snowball. Using the letter ID example, students might find someone who has the same letter as they do matching capital to capital or lowercase to lowercase.
Produce – Students must say what is on their snowball. For letter ID this could be naming the letter. Other students could make the letter sound or even produce a word that begins with that letter.

After students have completed the task, they can divide into two groups, throw the snowballs, and continue the learning fun!
There are SO many skills that you can use this game to practice and students are sure to love it every time! 

For skills that I found I needed an illustration to practice since many of my students are not reading yet, I created these snowball fight activities:

Rhyming snowball fight helps students practice identifying, matching, and producing rhyming words. This activity includes 32 colorful snowball cards (16 different rhyming pairs) and is ready to print and crumple! 

You can find it here or by clicking the picture below.

Alliteration/Beginning sound snowball fight helps students practice identifying, matching, and producing beginning sounds as well as words that begin with the same sound. This activity includes 52 snowballs with colorful pictures (2 pictures for each letter of the alphabet) and is ready to print and crumple! 

You can find it here or by clicking the picture below.

Snowball Alliteration

3. STEM Snowflake Building 

When I saw this awesome activity by Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls, I knew it would be PERECT in my classroom! 

To prep this activity, all you need are popsicle/craft sticks, paint (optional), and magnets (optional). I say optional for paint because while her popsicle sticks look beautiful painted, I know as teachers we don't always have time for that! I also think that the magnets are optional because while it is always neat to work on a vertical or magnetic surface, this activity would work just as well on top of a table or spread out on the floor! 

To create the different sizes, leave some of your sticks whole while cutting others in half. 

I think this is a great way for students to get their creative juices flowing as a STEM activity or a perfect activity to go along with a lesson on symmetry or even shapes! 

4. Snow storm in a jar

If you are looking for a simple science experiment that your students will LOVE, you should definitely check out this Snow storm in a jar freebie from Mrs. Richardson's Class. With just a few simple ingredients (most of which you probably already have) you can do an engaging density experiment that is perfect for this time of year! She has even included a teacher page with materials, questions to ask, and student journal pages!

5. Math and Literacy Activity Bundle

This collection of 11 fun, hands-on Math and Literacy activities is perfect to use whole group, small group, or in centers all winter long! 

Winter Bundle

The bundle contains activities that practice the following skills:




You can click on any of the pictures to go to that resource or to save BIG and get all of the activities, you can view the bundle here.

3 Things I will STOP Saying to my Students in the New Year to Create a more Positive and Productive Classroom

As the new year approaches, I like to think of ways that I can improve my classroom life as well as my personal life. While being reflective and thinking about what is working and what is not, I couldn't help but think about the classroom environment and culture I have built this year.

 When trying to think of small and simple but hopefully impactful things that I can change, I began to think about the words I say and how I respond to students' problems. There were few very commonly used phrases that popped into my head that might not be the best at showing my students respect and making them feel as though their voices are being heard. 

These are 3 simple phrases that I have decided to (try and) ban from my teacher vocabulary in the new year.

"We are all going to the same place"

Have you ever been walk to a line at the grocery store and have someone  speed walk to cut in front of you right before you were entering the checkout lane? 

Have you ever been waiting in a long line in traffic when someone decides to cut over in front of you at the last minute?

Have you ever been waiting for a parking space in a crowded parking lot just to have another car dart into the spot before you can?

As an adult, I find all of these situations extremely annoying and frustrating. Sure I'll still be able to check out, get to my destination, or park somewhere else but it is irritating none the less.

Just think about how cutting in line is your students equivalent to those situations. Sure in the grand scheme of things what position you are standing in line doesn't matter but if it is frustrating to you as an adult, it is equally as frustrating to your students!


Let me preface this by saying that I do believe sharing is a VERY important skill that everyone needs to learn. Unfortunately, to most young children, the word share means you give me what I want when I want it. If Johnny just picked up the green marker at the table and started using it but Susie wants it too, she expects him to hand it over immediately or chances are you as the teacher are going to hear all about how he is not "sharing". Now on the flip side, if Johnny has had the green marker for 20 minutes and nobody else has gotten to use it, that is a different story! The problem is, I have noticed that most of my students really don't see the difference. 

I plan to be more mindful about taking just a little time to teach students how to share and take turns. We are expected to teach so much each day that there is little to no time for teaching social skills. The biggest issue I have with that is that the lack of social skills leads to many more interruptions and distractions throughout the day which takes away from the time students have to learn. 

Hopefully giving students some of the skills they need will alleviate at least a few of these issues. (A girl can dream right?) Which actually leads me to the last phrase I am going to attempt to change this year...

"You need to be a problem solver"

Okay, this is another skill that admittedly our students need to learn but, what does "being a problem solver" even mean? Chances are when I say that to my students, they probably have no idea what that looks like or what exactly I am expecting them to do and just leave feeling like they haven't been heard. Or (even worse), decide to solve the problem by throwing a tantrum to get what they want, hitting another student, or some other undesired behavior. This is why it is important to explicitly teach students strategies to solve their problems, work with them, and model, model, MODEL until they can take the initiative and do it independently.

One great place to get started is showing students how to use their words and express what they are feeling. If you are experiencing a similar problem with your students, you can read about some great strategies, in this article I found: Coaching Students in Handling Everyday Conflicts.

Here is to hoping that implementing these few simple changes will lead to a happy, more positive 2019 in my classroom for myself and my students. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful 2019 with your students! Are there any other common phrases that you can think of? Do you have any classroom goals set of things you would like to do differently in the new year? I would love to hear about them in the comments! 

Easy Christmas Centers for Pre-k and Kindergarten

If you are in the mood to print and go, I have all kinds of Christmas and Winter activities that you can find here:

To take a more DIY approach, here are a few low prep, high engagement activities that are perfect for this time of year!

First up is a fun, hands-on math center that can be differentiated to meet all of your students' needs! To prep this simple activity, all you need is a die, some felt, and a good pair of scissors! 

Fold your green felt I'm half and cut out a "Christmas tree shape". Use any other color felt to create ornaments. I made simple circles but you can get as creative with it as you want!

For students working on counting with 1:1 correspondence, instruct students to roll the die and count out that number of ornaments onto their tree. Students can keep rolling and counting until their tree is full or they are out of  ornaments!

To add another step, provide students with different sized "gifts" and encourage students to put the gifts in order from smallest to largest under the tree.

For students working on addition, instruct students to roll the die and count out that number of ornaments. Roll the die a second time and add the second quantity of ornaments on the tree. (I had my students use one color for each turn.) Have students write an addition equation to represent the ornaments they added to their tree.

The final way I like to use this activity is to compare amounts. Just like with the addition activity, instruct students to roll the die and count out that number of ornaments. Roll the die a second time and add the second quantity of ornaments on the tree. (I had my students use one color for each turn.) Then, students will compare the two quantities and discuss which color has more, which has less, or if the quantities are equal.

Holiday Card Writing Station

This station could not be easier to set up! I supplied students in the writing center with markers, construction paper, and festive stickers from the dollar store. You can also display a few "holiday words" to get them started. (If you need Holiday Vocab words, I have a FREEBIE for you. :) Keep Scrolling!

I taught students how to fold the paper in half to make a card. They decorated the front with a holiday message. 

Then wrote a special message inside for whoever they were making their card for.

Students could also use this center to write a letter to Santa.

I have created a Holiday Vocabulary FREEBIE just for you! Click the image below to download.

Another low prep activity that is fun for the students is this size comparing and patterning craft. 

To prep this activity, all you have to do is cut several strips of green paper in different lengths. I cut mine with about an inch difference. 

Supply the students with construction paper, glue, and strips of paper cut into several different lengths. Instruct students to arrange the paper strips from smallest to largest and glue them down on a sheet of construction paper.

To add another skill to this activity, students can create a pattern "ornaments" on each strip. I like to use these sparkly glitter glue pens but you could also use pom poms, sequence, or any other art supplies you have! 
(Click the picture to grab these on Amazon - Affiliate link)

Looking for even more Christmas activities to keep your students engaged this month? Click the overs below to grab these engaging Christmas Activities!

 Christmas Literacy Activities

 Christmas CVC Puzzles

 Christmas Counting

 Christmas Non-Standard Measurement

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