Not sure what to teach in January?

Here is a list of ideas to get you started!

Here are some important events for this month that you’ll want to be sure to include on your calendar:

  • This is International Creativity Month
  • January 17 is Kid Inventor’s Day
  • Celebrate Thesaurus Day (Peter Mark Roget’s birthday) on January 18
  • Martin Luther King’s birthday is January 21
  • January 27 is Holocaust Memorial Day
  • The fourth Wednesday in January is Library Shelfie Day
What to teach in January.

Journal Prompts

When you use journal prompts at the start of class, your students are warmed up and practicing their writing skills every day.

1.Monthly celebrations

One fun way to get students writing is to use monthly holidays.

Students love the interesting and silly daily and weekly holidays (Did you know that January 20 is “Penguin Awareness Day” and January 26 is “Fruitcake Toss Day”?) You can use appropriate daily holidays as journal prompts.

If you want some “ready to use” January writing prompts, you can use this January digital writing journal or this print journal.

Want to get more from daily writing warm ups? This post will help you do just that!


Since there are fewer interruptions in January, it’s a great time to teach longer writing project and focus on improving your students’ writing skills.

Here are some ways to do just that:

2. Gather Writing Assessments

Before jumping into the first writing project of the year, consider assessing where your students are as writers.

By gathering a writing assessment, you can tailor your lessons to your students’ needs. Even if you have a writing assessment from the beginning of the year, a new writing assessment will help you see how far they have come!

3.  Try writing workshop

If you haven’t tried a workshop style classroom, but want to — this is the perfect time to give it a whirl. January is a great time to teach new writing skills and habits — and writing workshop is a great place to start.

Writing workshop is a great way to meet individual writing needs and really help your students move forward with their writing skills. Start small by giving it a try once or twice a week.

4.  Start with a fun, creative writing assignment

Why is it that when students return from a break it’s as if they’ve never been in your classroom before?!

Use a fun writing activity to ease them back into writing. I love using videos to get students thinking, analyzing, and ready to write. Using videos to teach narrative writing is a great way to hook your students back into the work of writing.

5.  Use mini lessons to guide writing projects

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That’s why I love teaching with mini lessons!

They are the secret sauce to helping students be successful with writing! Break big writing projects into small, manageable, easy to assess, mini lessons.

When you assess the small pieces that go into the larger writing project, you are more effective in helping students get back on track and stay on track.

(If you’re teaching narrative or expository writing this month, you can find mini lessons for both of them in my stop.)

How to create and use mini lessons


6. Teach critical thinking with Super Bowl ads

One of the biggest sporting events this month (in the U.S. at least) is the Super Bowl. And sometimes, the ads are the best part!

Use your students’ interest in those ads to teach propaganda and critical thinking.

7.  Run a reading challenge

New year, new challenges! Renew your students’ interest in reading by setting up a reading challenge.

It doesn’t need to be complex or involve extra grading for you — set up a quick challenge and an easy way to monitor. Be sure to participate in the challenge yourself!

8. Try book clubs

If you didn’t have time to use book clubs, but wanted to — January is the perfect month to get them going.

You’ll have nearly four uninterrupted weeks this month! If this is your first time trying book clubs, keep it simple. Groups can meet once a week for discussions (Fridays are great for this!).

Not sure what books to use? I’ve got lists!!

Speaking & Listening Skills

9. Book talks

I feel like I am always promoting book talks! But they hit so many important skills! Like…

reading, writing, critical thinking, analysis, organizing ideas, persuasive language, supporting an opinion, speaking, and listening! (I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two!!)

The great thing about book talks (or should I say the other great things about book talks!) is that you can spread them out throughout a month. Rather than schedule them all on a few days (boring!) — spread them out. The result? Book talks stay fresh and exciting.


10.  Have students the writing they’ve produced thus far

When teaching a grammar concept, ask students to find examples of how they used that concept in their own writing.

For example, if you are teaching sentence structure, have students run an analysis of their own sentence structure. Ask them to pull mentor sentences from their own writing. They can record these sentences in their resource notebooks.

If students don’t have mentor sentences to share, have them revise one or more of their own to create some.

As a result of asking students to dig into their own writing, students practice and refine revision, grammar, and proofreading skills.


11.  Use mini research assignments

Jump back up to #1 on this list!

Check out any number of quirky daily, weekly, or monthy holidays as an opportunity for students to do a bit of research.

Just what is a fruitcake toss and how did it get started? What should people know about penguins and why do they need their own holiday?

Have students start with questions – many of them. As they research, this is a perfect opportunity to teach fact checking as well!

After students have completed their research, they can share it with a powerpoint slide, poster, or quick talk as a way to open up class.

Looking for ideas of what to teach next month? Check out this post for what to teach in February!

Enjoy this month!

With gratitude,

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