An example from the One Word activity with text reading: My one word for 2024: active

One word: New year goal-setting activity for students

Goal setting can be intimidating and even downright confusing for our elementary-aged kids. It does not mean it is impossible, but it may be challenging for them to plan for an outcome that will take days, months, or even years to get to.

For these reasons, I really love the One Word concept, where students are asked to pick one word they want to focus on and have it define their year. Follow these four steps to accomplish this goal-setting activity.

1. Read “One Word for Kids”

If you do not have the book “One Word for Kids,” there is a great read aloud option by one of the co-authors, Jimmy Page, on YouTube. The book is great at defining this goal setting strategy. It goes in depth on how a child chose his word, while giving examples that might help students choose their own word.

2. Brainstorm

Give students time to think of words and discuss some ideas as a class. This process helps students really process what is asked of them and gets them thinking.

3. Outline

On paper, have students write their word, definition, and challenges they are working on and what their word will facilitate. For example, if you chose ACTIVE, a challenge may be that you enjoy Netflix and laying on the couch too much. This can be in any outline format your students are used to. I used this free online resource.

4. Final Draft

Once you have checked that students understand the assignment by editing the outlines with them, you can pass out a final draft template. The final draft will make great hallway decor, showcasing everyone’s word for the year. I gave my students some sentence starters for their final drafts, such as “I chose ______ because _______.” Or “I will achieve ______ by _______.”

Do you have any fun new year activities for your home or classroom? Let us know at Arizona PBS KIDS on Facebook.


About the author

Marissa Will is the mother of two, Olivia (6) and Logan (4). Writing was her first passion: she’s a freelance writer and a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumna. Will is currently educating the future leaders of tomorrow: She has spent the past nine years educating third grade with a master’s degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University-Yuma.

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