We’re Counting Down Five Fun New Year’s Themed Activities

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It’s hard to believe that we’ll soon be starting another year!  As the holidays approach and the current year ends…whether you are a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or another type of school-based therapist…you may be looking for ways to mark the old and ring in the new in your school-based therapy job.


With some ideas to help end your year on a high note, we present…our best of New Year’s themed activities!  Try some in the classroom, in a therapy setting, or offer them up to parents for at-home parties commemorating the real deal. Most of these ideas are fun for all children and can easily be modified for varying abilities and ages.  So, in keeping with the theme, we count them down for you!


  1. Paint Fireworks

Everybody loves painted fireworks!  They’re just as sparkly as the real ones, but without the jarring noise.  You’ll need cardboard rolls (large gift-wrap rolls cut down work great!). Cut around the bottom of the rolls at even intervals to make “fringes” of different lengths. Provide different colored paints set up on full-sized paper plates along with large sheets of paper. Dip the snipped end of the rolls in the paint and use a “bounce and twist” motion to transfer the paint onto the paper.  Create single colors or overlap.  Embellish with glitter to complete the effect.  For photos and more details illustrating this project, go to http://www.learning4kids.net/2015/12/27/painting-fireworks/


  1. Throw a Noon Year’s Eve Party

During the day in the classroom, therapy setting, or for younger children who may not make it to midnight, consider celebrating Noon Year’s Eve!  When counting down the minutes until 12 p.m. (or any time you choose, really), encourage children to pay attention to how long a minute—or five minutes—feels. Pick an activity like dancing or jumping jacks for each minute to keep them engaged. Balloon popping can also be incorporated here when appropriate!  And, of course, you can also plan any of the following activities for your party.


  1. Break Out a New Year’s Eve Countdown Chain

Whether you’re celebrating early or late into the night, a New Year’s Eve Countdown Chain adds interest to the time spent waiting for the calendar to change over!  It’s also quieter than balloons for students that may not appreciate the popping! To do this, make colorful paper chains using construction paper and write simple tasks or fun activities on each link. Tear off one link for each hour that passes.  Some ideas might include:

  • Have a dance party.
  • Make a resolution.
  • Say something you’re thankful for.
  • Pick something to look forward to in the new year.
  • Have a snack.


And for the final link, you can always bank pots and pans, make noise, yell hooray, give hugs or whatever else suits the crowd!


  1. Create Your Own New Year’s Eve Paper Plate Clock

Going along with the theme of time and counting down, these paper clocks may just be the perfect craft!  They’re totally adorable and can be used for classroom parties and then again at home when celebrating with family.

You’ll need:

  • paper plates
  • construction paper
  • paint/markers/crayons
  • split pins
  • glue
  • googly
  • eyes
  • popsicle sticks


Before you begin, you may want to have enough construction paper clock hands and triangular party hats cut and ready to go. And depending on the kids you’re working with, you may choose to pre-write the clock numbers on the plates.  Have each child decorate a plate with markers, paint or crayons. Party hats can be decorated, as well, with plenty of color and bits of shredded paper at the rim. Glue popsicle sticks to the back of the hats and then to clocks to hold them in place. Attach the clock hands using the split pins. The children can then glue eyes on and make smiles for their clock faces.  Move the hands to mark the hours until midnight, a designated celebration time or for as long as little ones can stay awake!  To see photo examples of the countdown clock, click here http://thepinterestedparent.com/2015/12/new-years-eve-paper-plate-celebration-clock/


  1. Make Some Noise (Makers!)

No matter what time you’ve chosen to celebrate, it’s a great time to make some noise!  Noisemaker crafts are fun, while also providing a chance to pick up and sort small objects to create noise. When they’re done, kids can further use their fine motor skills by holding and shaking their creations. Here are a few of our favorite DIY noisemaker projects.


  1. Fill a clear plastic cup with something small and noisy (colored beads, beans, rice, popcorn kernels, etc.). Secure a second cup on top of the first with colored craft or electrical tape. Have kids decorate the outside with stickers or even paint.  Bonus: this project can be used after the holidays as an instrument to teach rhythm. Another variation on this idea would be to use clear, empty water bottles.
  2. Have children decorate the outside of two paper bowls with paint, crayons, marker or stickers. Fill one bowl with candy and/or small toys. Place the second bowl on top and secure with glue or staples. You can include a popsicle stick in between as a handle and some curled ribbon streamers too if you like. Another variation on this can be done using one large paper plate folded in half to hold the contents. Make noise when it’s time and then enjoy the treats inside!
  3. Seal off the ends of paper towel/toilet paper rolls with foil and decorative tape. Have children fill their tubes with something small and noisy (colored beads, beans, rice, popcorn kernels, etc.). Once filled, seal the other ends of the tubes with foil and tape. Then, decorate with more tape, construction paper, paint, etc.  Shake ‘em up!


Do you have a favorite New Year’s activity or craft?  We love to know what’s working for your students!


And finally, from all of us to all of you, we thank you for your support and wish you a happy, healthy new year!


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