Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, some activities may not currently be appropriate or may need to be modified to respect community safety measures. Please always follow the advice of local health authorities.
Louis Braille was born on January 4th, 1809. Due to an accident in his younger years, he lost his sight. In spite of this, Louis Braille excelled in school and at the age of 20, he published his first book about a system that used raised dots to represent letters and numbers. His hard work has opened the door for many non-sighted people to be able to read with their fingers for education, work, and pleasure!
(Language, The Senses)
Prepare several different tactile objects and place them in a paper bag (e.g., sandpaper, a bar of soap, gummy bears, felt, piece of plush fabric). Ask the students to reach into the bag and feel one of the objects without looking. What words describe how it feels? What do they think the object might be? Continue with several other students.
When they have guessed all of the items, ask the following questions:
Explain that some people do not have all of these senses to rely on every day, so they need some help to understand and interpret the world around them.
Explain that people who cannot see at all (or have difficulty seeing objects) sometimes use Braille to read, perform mathematical calculations, and express themselves. Distribute copies of the Braille alphabet that are available at:
Ask students to print their own name the way they always do. Then ask them to draw dots to represent their name in Braille.
Close by reminding them that Braille is a wonderful way for some children to communicate. Try using the Braille chart to print their last name!
Before sharing the brief history of Braille above, ask students if they can tell you how people with sight challenges communicate. Print the word Braille on the board and share the history.
Explain that everyone has the right to be able to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Share that Braille gives people with compromised sight the opportunity to share with others.
Distribute the printable Braille alphabet at:
Ask students to prepare a short message for a partner using dots. Exchange messages and have the students reply in Braille as well.
Discuss by asking:
(Technology, Language, Math)
Ask students what they can tell you about Braille. Do a quick online search of Louis Braille and Helen Keller. What did they learn about these two individuals?
Download and distribute the Braille Number Chart at:
Depending on the mathematical abilities of your students, consider providing them with a series of problems and ask them to solve and show the answer in Braille (partners might work best here).
Following the exercise, discuss:
National Hobby Month is a whole month when we can celebrate our interests, strengths, and hobbies outside of the classroom. Whether we like to collect shells, build models, solve challenging puzzles, or play a musical instrument, hobbies are a part of who we are.
As early as 1676, a man named Matthew Hale wrote, “Almost every person hath some hobby horse or other wherein he prides himself.” In modern-day language, Hale was talking about the pastimes or hobbies that tweak our interest.
Let’s celebrate our hobbies and share them with others!
(The Arts, Language)
Ask students: If you were not at school today, what would you be doing? Accept several answers that include both inside and outdoor activities. Ask the students to stand up, clap, wave their arms, or give a thumbs-up if they like to:
Continue until all of the students have expressed their interest in at least one activity or hobby.
Provide each student with a piece of mural paper and paints. Ask them to paint themselves doing something they like to do. Collect the paintings and make a mural for the classroom or school walls.
Remind students that having a hobby is a good way to keep their brain thinking, even outside of school!
Post some charts around the classroom with the following titles:
Provide students with stickers or markers and ask them to go around the room and place a sticker (or a checkmark) on the sheets that indicate things they like to do.
When students have finished, review the sheets and ask students who placed a sticker on the “Other” sheet to tell what their hobby is so you can list them on the sheet. Ask:
Explain that you are going to set aside a short period of time every day/week (schedule permitting) to allow students to share their hobby with the class. Explain that there will be a sign-up sheet and all ideas need to be cleared by the teacher in case of allergies, school rules, etc. Enjoy!
(All subject areas)
Ask students to work in small groups and brainstorm on chart paper what they like to do on rainy days when there is no school. Explain that although technology is a part of how many students spend their time, let’s not include it for this exercise. Post and share ideas.
Share that having a hobby is an important part of expressing who they are.
Read the charts and then ask:
Explain that January is National Hobby Month and share the brief history (see Intro). Engage students in planning a “What’s Your Hobby?” day for their school. As a class, arrange a date, time, and venue for the event and ask all classes to participate. Students advertise on the announcements and provide each school class with the details re time, set up, etc. Together, brainstorm any pitfalls and possible solutions (allergies, un-caged pets, etc.)
Set up the day, invite parents, and celebrate National Hobby Month!
Note: This may be done on a smaller scale, (classroom, grade level, etc.)
Also, students at this age may be heavily involved in technology. Express that you recognize this but that you are looking for pastimes that do not involve technology, as it is important to balance leisure time activities.
Family Literacy Day was created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999. This day reminds us of the importance of involving families in life-long learning and literacy activities. Celebrated across the country in schools, libraries, homes, and community centres, Family Literacy Day is an opportunity to share in the joy of reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing. Enjoy!
For more information, visit the Family Literacy Day website or download resources from the CommunityWire website at www.communitywire.ca/en/org/abc-life-literacy-canada.
Open a discussion with students by asking them to tell you about their favourite story or book. Share several examples.
Read a story-book to the children and ask them what they liked about the book.
Ask students who usually reads to or with them: parents, care-givers, siblings, etc.
Take them to the school library to pick out a book that they would like to share with their family. Once the books have been signed out, invite students to talk about why they made that selection. Send the books home to be shared and upon their return, talk about who read the books together and what they liked about the experience. Also encourage sharing books in other languages!
Note: Some children may not have anybody at home to read to them. Consider setting up a “reading buddy” arrangement for these students.
For more ideas, check out:
(Reading, Family Connection)
In a newsletter home, identify that you and your class are celebrating Family Literacy Day. Invite families to share their own favourite books, stories, or anecdotes from their families. Ask family members to comment about the experience in the students’ shared Agendas.
Provide time in the classroom to share the Family Literacy time the students had at home.
Note: Speak to your ESL or Language specialist to see what resources you have available in different languages. Encourage all cultures to bring in samples of what they read in their homes. If possible, connect ESL students to someone in the school who speaks the same language so that they can communicate the importance of Family Literacy Day in any language!
(Language- Reading, Writing, Speaking, Viewing and Representing)
Discuss the elements of language with your students. Ask them to identify the different components of language. Explain that reading, writing, listening, speaking, and what we call viewing and representing are important components of language.
Share the information in the Introduction (above) and explain that literacy includes all the ways we receive and communicate meaning; improving our literacy helps us become good at communicating with others. Discuss with students how they communicate with each other and with their families. Do they communicate differently with their friends than they do with their families? Why, and in what ways? What means of communication do they use with different people in their lives (phone call, texting, email, online video calling, voice, pen or pencil, art, music, photos, etc.)? Invite students to choose a form of communication and connect with someone. The task will be to share (in a way of their choosing) how they feel about technology and how it can be used to help people communicate effectively.
Share results and discuss.
Since 2010, the Bell Let’s Talk Day has been promoting awareness and action in the field of mental health. With Olympian Clara Hughes as ambassador, the efforts to “start the conversation and end the stigma”.’ have been celebrated and recognized across Canada and beyond.
On January 31st 2018, we all have a chance to make a difference in the way we think about and act on the issue of mental illness.
(K-2) (Language, Vocabulary)
Ask the students to give you examples of what makes them:
Explain that everybody feels these emotions at some time or other. In fact, feeling and learning how to name emotions is a really important thing.
Remind students that sharing how they are feeling with someone else is also a good thing.
Teach students the following short poem and have them show how their face and body would look with each line.
Sometimes I’m sad and that is okay.
Sometimes I’m mad and I don’t want to play.
Sometimes I’m happy and my face has a smile.
Sometimes I want to be alone for a while.
Sometimes I feel like I just need a friend –
Someone on whom I can always depend.
So however I feel, please listen to me.
I’ll talk to you, and you talk to me!
Close by reminding students that sharing how they feel and talking (and listening) to a friend is important and helpful.
For additional ideas and lesson plans, check out this site:
(Language, Vocabulary, Non-verbal Communication)
Have a discussion about the importance of recognizing and naming the various emotions that students experience every day. List these on chart paper or the board. Explain that people show how they are feeling in a number of ways. Explore examples (crying, laughing, etc.)
After identifying several emotions, gather the students and remind them that sometimes we use body language to express how we are feeling as well. Discuss.
Invite students to write an anonymous paragraph that describes a situation that may occur with students their age. The paragraph may begin, “Sometimes I feel…. “ Collect and randomly share the paragraphs, asking for suggestions on how to manage these feelings and also ways to help a friend who could be experiencing these feelings.
Remind them that if they see someone who is displaying these actions or behaviours, it would be a good time to talk to them and let them know that you will listen to them if they want to talk.
Give students the option to print “Please do not read” on their anonymous poems as some may use this opportunity to share something personal. Also explain that a “no names” rule is in effect.
For additional ideas and lesson plans, check out this site:
(Mental Health, Stigma, Bullying)
Discuss the term “stigma.” Explain that sometimes we put labels on people just because of the way they act or look. Review the purpose of the Bell Let’s Talk Day and ask the students what they think the term “mental illness” means.
Explain that it is important to think about mental illness in the same way we think about physical illness. If someone has a physical illness or limitation, we accept and accommodate them. We need to do the same for people who have a mental health issue. The best way we can do this is to work together to stomp out the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Watch the Bell Let’s Talk video about stigma:
As instructed at the end of the video, ask the students to work in pairs to think of things they can do to help end the stigma that surrounds mental health. Share.
There are so many wonderful things to celebrate throughout the year! Sometimes as teachers we just get too busy to think of ways to recognize and integrate special days, special people, and special ideas into our curriculum.
This calendar is a unique and evolving project. Instead of the “special days” that you may already be used to celebrating in your classrooms, you will find some interesting, educational, and even some outrageous dates, accompanied by quick “Activity Bursts” to get your students talking and thinking. Enjoy!
Note: In addition to the references suggested in some of the Activity Bursts you may want to check out the following resources that connect to and extend the “special day” experience.
Just for fun