20 January Activities for Primary Students


New goals, new ideas, new activities, and a new year! What are your aspirations for this calendar year? I am always so excited to start the new year with my students and continue to watch all of their progress! I have some great January activities planned for them. And I’d love to share these with you too!

But before I jump into all of the amazing January activities for your primary students… do something for yourself! STOP spending so much time searching for and prepping activities for your lesson plans. Give Education to the Core Premium a try and see how easy it is to find resources that will save you hours of planning and prep not only in January but for the rest of the year too.

Now that you have access to all things ETTC, let’s get you set for the first month of the second semester! Here are 20 January activities that will get your students off to a fantastic start in the new year. 

1. New Year’s Goal Writing

It makes sense to kick the year off with some New Year’s Goal Writing don’t you think? Students need to hear about the importance of goal setting too! Getting students to think about their goals and reflect on their progress can be a great growth mindset strategy to help them build their academic skills. 


2. Comparing New Year Celebrations

Take the new year celebration one step further and put those higher-level thinking skills to good use. First, read through the mini-book, New Year Celebrations, and discuss the similarities and differences between the celebrations with your class. Then, students can continue their new year celebrations research and record their information on a research worksheet.

What is awesome about using a New Year Compare and Contrast printable is that it gets students thinking about the bigger picture. It’s a fun January activity to open up the conversation with your class and encourage them to think about and compare all the celebrations around the world.


3. January Images Secret Code Activity

R-controlled vowels can be a difficult skill for students to master. When I begin teaching this concept, I include a lot of practice throughout my lesson plans. I have found games to be helpful for teaching r-controlled vowels… A secret code game always gets students excited! Who doesn’t want to be a detective right? Secret Code r-controlled vowels is a fun way to keep students engaged.


4. Spin and Graph January Activity

Games can help students get back into the groove this January. Spin and Graph is a great activity for students to practice making a graph. Graphs are important because they help students visualize and compare data in the world around them.


5. Analyzing a Bar Graph

Bar graphs give students the opportunity to ask questions and gather information. They help students organize information, making it easier for them to analyze the data. A Winter Bar Graph is a January activity that will help students practice the skills of displaying the data and then analyzing it by answering a few questions.


6. Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline

Timelines are a hands-on learning tool and organize information in a way that makes it easier for students to visualize and learn. Using a Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline can help students better understand the events that took place in his life. This January activity can provide students with a way to organize the information and better understand these historical events. Reading an additional Martin Luther King Jr. passage with a comprehension activity, can help students further learn and discuss his life in history.


7. Dice Games as January Activities

Roll and Write Sight Words is a classic game that never fails to build fluency and spelling skills. Students love to play this one with a partner, so adding it to a center works really nicely. I make sure that when students are finished with the game, they come and see me to practice reading the words, and using the words in a sentence. If students love this January activity, you can also try a Roll and Write CVC Word Game in your classroom.


8. January Activity Ten Frames for Winter

Teaching with ten frames helps students develop number sense. They provide students with a visual and help them “see” the number. Including ten-frame activities in your daily lessons helps your students build a strong math foundation. This foundation will help when learning more complex math skills, such as addition and subtraction. A Mitten Ten Frames or Count and Match Winter Hats activity allows students to independently apply the math skills they are learning with a fun winter-themed twist. For students that need extra support, these can be completed in a whole or small group.


9. Winter Patterns

Patterns help students make logical predictions. Patterns are a January activity that encourages students to use reasoning skills, which helps prepare them for future and more complex math skills. We incorporate patterns throughout our morning meeting and our daily routine. Students love to create their own Mitten Patterns by selecting the colors to complete the patterns. January Patterns are another option, which are wonderful for a quick check or assessment to make sure students are understanding this math concept.


10. Color by Code January Activities

Color-by-code activities help students build fine motor and coordination activities while working on math or literacy skills. They also help students practice following directions. An added bonus is that coloring is often a calming activity for students. Also, an engaging way for students to practice skills and build stamina! Color by Code January activities allows students to work independently and solve the mystery of the hidden picture.


11. Skip Counting

Skip counting helps students see patterns in numbers. It also helps them build number sense and creates a math foundation for them to learn multiplication and division skills. Skip counting is a skill that students often need repetition and continued practice with in order to master. Counting by 5’s can be completed with a whole or small group or given to students as an assessment.


12. I Spy January Activities

Learning blends can be difficult for students and extra practice can be helpful. Get students excited about learning blends with an I Spy Blends activity. “I Spy” is a January activity that enhances visual discrimination and gets reluctant readers excited! It’s important for students to learn and know blends as they build their reading skills.


13. ABC Order

Learning ABC order helps students organize and find information. It’s an important life and literacy skill! Winter Alphabetical Order gives students practice with this skill as they start the new year.


14. Writing to 100

We are getting close to 100 days of school and we know that will call for a celebration! Get ready for this special day with Rainbow Numbers 1 – 100. Students practice reading color words, building fine motor skills and recognizing numbers all in one activity.


15. Real and Nonsense Words

A real and nonsense word sort helps students practice blending and reasoning skills. This activity encourages students to use letter-sound knowledge instead of word memorization to read each word. This is a great activity to complete together as a whole group to ensure accuracy.


16. Word Searches

When we return to school in January, it’s helpful to complete activities that allow students to review sight words. Using a sight word search makes the sight word review more fun! My students love the opportunity to use highlighters for their word searches.

17. Telling Time

As your students’ awareness of time has developed this school year, you have moved to teaching smaller time intervals. In January, students practice those smaller intervals with a Telling Time to Five Minutes activity. This activity gives them the opportunity to draw the hands on the clock, allowing them to use higher-level thinking skills. (not to mention having to count by 5s again as we discussed earlier)


18. Sorting Activities

Using a sorting activity to help teach a phonics skill, allows students to understand how words and sounds are alike and different. Sorting helps students build executive functioning skills, improving memory, attention, and problem-solving. Have students complete a Long Vowel Sort to encourage them to use higher-level thinking skills as they learn the long vowel sounds.


19. Antonym Match

Teaching antonyms is important because it will increase students’ vocabulary and strengthen their comprehension and writing skills. Using an Antonym Match allows students to apply their knowledge of antonyms.


20. January Listen and Color Activity

The holiday season has most likely brought a lot of excitement to your classroom. It can be difficult for students to get back into a routine and focus on listening skills. A January Listen and Color allows students to practice listening skills and following directions. As students gain listening skills, not only does it improve their academic success, but it allows their communication skills and social interactions to improve as well.

These January activities for primary students are the perfect solution to use for teaching new concepts, continued practice, review, assessment, or homework. Use them in a way that works best for your students.

Check out the complete assortment of January activities included in each grade-level packet. 


At ETTC, our goal is to support you every step of the way, all year long. That is why our resources don’t stop here.

You can continue to find monthly activities for the remainder of the year with our monthly packets for every single month. Monthly packets are available by the month or in Year Long Bundles

Written By:  Sarah Cason

At Education to the Core, we exist to help our teachers build a stronger classroom as they connect with our community to find trusted, state-of-the-art resources designed by teachers for teachers. We aspire to be the world’s leading & most trusted community for educational resources for teachers. We improve the lives of every teacher and learner with the most comprehensive, reliable, and inclusive educational resources.

If you enjoyed what we have to offer at ETTC, be sure to join our email list, so you won’t miss a beat. We are here to help with all your resource needs. Become a Premium Member of Education to the Core and receive immediate access to thousands of printable activities. For one small monthly or annual fee, everything ETTC can be at your fingertips all of the time.


Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.