Brighten up the Classroom with a Winter Celebration Calendar

Christmas bells will be replaced with alarm bells come January. From the most wonderful time of the year to, well, the bleakest time of the year.  After the excitement of the holidays and the extra sleep from the break, we have to open our eyes to a dark morning, shiver as we leave our warm beds, and trudge our way to school (or our computers) where we have a long… long January, February, and March awaiting us.

With the efficiency of our virtual education advancements, the sparkle of snowflakes blanketing the roadways no longer comes with the promise of a snow day break.  That’s right, it looks like the  sparkle in the classroom is going to be up to you. This is a snow-covered mountain of a challenge.

I keep my kids moving, and interested in today and tomorrow by introducing my, “January Jollies” calendar. There are some seriously silly national celebration days out there, which, other than a smile to the social media postings about them, I usually ignore. But now, with the doom and gloom of winter threatening the energy in the eyes of my students, I embrace the ridiculous national days, and welcome them into the routine of my classroom between winter and spring break.  Feast your eyes on the wonders of my “2021 January Jollies”  celebrations below:

January 2021

4 – National “Thank God it’s Monday” Day! This one will be tough, but welcome in the new school year and return from break with a thankful Monday! Use this time to let the kids reflect on their winter breaks and share some of the fun they had.

5 – National Bird Day. Although it may be cold, see if the weather allows a short, quiet walk to observe the school yard birds. Alternatively, the class can make bird feeders to take home and hang outside a classroom window making for easy (and warmer) observations even after National Bird Day.

6 – National Cuddle up Day! Baby, it’s cold outside and a nice time of year for a blanket or stuffed animal snuggle! Bring the stuffed animals in for today’s class!

7 – Old Rock Day:  a science teacher favorite- what to do, find a pet rock, look at rock samples, discover fossils perhaps?

8 – National Clean off your Desk Day:  Or… clean their lockers for the older students! We could all use this one!

11 – National Milk Day- lets share a glass of milk, or perhaps virtually visit a cow farm?

12 – National Pharmacist Day – In the new world of COVID, medicines and vaccines are in the spotlight. Let’s learn about what a pharmacist is today and maybe write some thank you notes to deliver to the local pharmacies who have been working hard for the community.

13 – National Gluten-free Day! Let’s learn what gluten is! Share some gluten-free crackers or cookies, perhaps?

14 – Dress your Pet Day – or the classroom stuffed animal. A great day for a pet picture showcase. Alternatively, highlight these pets in a fun virtual show and tell!

15 – National Hat Day! This is fun in the classroom or virtually! Did I mention it’s National Bagel Day, too?!? Have a bagel for breakfast today.  If you are online only, maybe let the parents know and your class could try to enjoy a bagel breakfast together while watching a virtual bagel bakery tour.

18 – National Thesaurus Day – Some of your students might not even know what a thesaurus or dictionary is.  This is a great opportunity to play and learn some new words today.

19 – Pop into school with a National Popcorn Day celebration! Besides sharing a popcorn snack today, you could incorporate some popcorn crafts, or learn about farming corn in our country.

20 – National DJ Day! Bring the music in to your classroom today and make yourself today’s classroom DJ! Introduce the kids to different types of music. Play some musical chairs (even the big kids like this).

21- National Hug Day may have to take the year off for social distancing- so let’s go nuts and celebrate National Squirrel Appreciation Day which also falls on the 21st.  If the weather cooperates, your class can take a nature walk to observe squirrels in the wild. Many easy squirrel feeder crafts are available online. Make some and place them around the schoolyard.

22- It is definitely a fun Friday when it’s Celebration Of Life Day! Celebrate the day away and count our many blessings as we go!

25- Opposite Day could be dangerously fun in an elementary classroom! How far can you take opposite day? It is also National Bubble wrap Day, and everyone loves bubble wrap.

26 – Did you know there is a National Green Juice Day? What kind of green juices could you bring in and explore with your students today? You could include a nutrition lesson, or a science lesson easily when green juice is involved.

27 – With that healthy green juice day out of the way, we are ready to indulge with National Chocolate Cake Day! Can you do a cooking demonstration and learn about thermal energy transfers or physical and chemical changes? Or just eat cake!

28 – National Lego Day! Legos are great learning toys and we as teachers can really be creative here to see where we are going to add Legos to the curriculum today- Legos in math with geometry shapes? Legos with Science and engineering? Students can sort by shape and color, or recreate cultural buildings.

29 – Puzzle Day- Bring several similar puzzles in for your students and make it into a science lesson.  Can they guess what type of puzzle they have? Can they make observations about their pieces before they put them together? Record and graph the times it takes the students to put the puzzles together. Or, just allow students to put puzzles together with free time today.

Trust me, your students will be begging you to tell them what the celebration of the day is before they even say hello to you. The celebration activities can be as big or as little as your content demands and time allows. There are countless options out there that can fit your virtual and live classroom and student needs. So do some research of your own. And remember, this is your classroom, and your celebration calendar. You can fill those days with anything you want, whether real or invented. You can use it whenever you want, whether it’s once a week, or twice a day. You know your students, you know your schedule, and you know how to use a tool like this to inspire them. So sparkle up your winter and dazzle them just as much as those snowflakes. They won’t even want a snow day if it means missing one of YOUR celebrations! Snow covered mountain of a challenge met with success! If you want to keep celebrating after “January Jollies,” you can check out other 2021 national days here and set your own plans for “February Fun”, “Marvelous March,” and “Amazing April.”


Jessica Cicalese-Kurtz, MA, K-12 Teaching and Technology; BA, K-8 Education; BS, Biology, Science and Engineering, is a high school STEAM Bio and AP Research teacher at Toms River High School East. Jess is also the Science Fair Coordinator at Toms River Middle School South. Jess has written curriculum for K-8 Science and High School Biology, as well as designed and implemented workshops for teachers. She is a freelance writer, wife, and budgeting mom of four who loves to travel, enjoy nature, connect with animals, and read.

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