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Preschool Calendar (why we still use it)

Are you a preschool teacher that still does daily calendar at circle time? I’m raising my hand! Seems like the newest trend in early education is to say ‘so long’ to calendars in the classroom. The traditional calendar is either being replaced by a linear calendar or no calendar at all.

But WHY?

 The thought process behind the decision behind no calendars is because young children don’t quite understand the concept of time in days, months and years. We know this to be true because to a preschooler everything happened yesterday! So, if children don’t grasp the idea of time why on earth spend time doing the calendar together?

And I understand that argument – I really do! But, the thing is we don’t use our calendar just for looking at the concept of time. In fact, we don’t focus too much time at all on day of the week or months of the year.

Because to me, there are many benefits that over ride the ‘the kids have no concept of time’ rebuttal. But, I also want to point out that we also don’t ‘do calendar’ for very long. I use it as a quick, fun way for us to reinforce and practice some skills. Plus, it’s a great way to start laying the foundation for the concept of time by relating events on the calendar back to something important to students.

Meaningful learning at it’s finest!

Skills that a preschool calendar help us practice:  

So, what are these skills that we reinforce and practice while using the calendar?

  •  We are counting with 1-1 correspondence in a meaningful way: by touching each number on the calendar and saying a numeral aloud
  • We are practicing counting orally to 30 or 31: we count as a class as the calendar helper points to the numerals 
  • We are moving with left to right, top to bottom progression: a skill used for reading and writing
  • We are beginning to recognize numerals: by seeing them on the calendar in order
  • We practice patterning: because our calendar pieces have patterning pictures on them  

How a preschool calendar can help us lay the foundation for later use:

We use calendar time to introduce the concept of keeping time via a calendar by using meaningful events.

  • We mark birthdays on our monthly calendar. 
  • We also mark a birthday month on our months of the year poster. 
  • We mark special days on our calendar. These might be holidays, a class event, no school or any other events that affect students. 
  • We mark our days of the week with ‘home’ and ‘school’ icons to help children start to understand that some days are for school and some are for being at home.
  • We introduce the name of the month we are in at the top of the calendar by relating it back to something most students can make a connection with. Like October and picking a pumpkin.
  • We count down to special events and birthdays to see how many days are left.

Overall, we are introducing the idea of what a calendar is and how it helps us, so that later when a calendar is present, children have schema for what a calendar is.

Creating your Own Calendar Board

There are many ways to create a calendar for your classroom. Some teachers use a blank actual calendar from the teacher store and attach calendar cards using velcro dots, loop dots or sticky tac.

But, my favorite way to present my calendar is using a calendar pocket chart (affiliate links). The pocket chart style allows me (or my calendar helper) to add calendar cards easily without needing any sort of adhesive. Which makes it quick and easy for me to take out a months worth of cards as well!

I am blessed to have a magnetic white board in my room, so I use magnetic hooks to place my calendar low enough for students to reach.

Patterning Calendar Pieces

Another great addition to any calendar pocket chart is patterning calendar pieces. Yes, regular number cards will do. But, why not harness the power of patterning while you are already doing calendar? Ever since using patterning calendar pieces, I rarely have to do any small group lessons on patterning. After doing it daily with differing patterns each month – the kids just get it and they find it to be so much fun! If you are need of patterning calendar pieces you can check out the ones I created for my classroom.       

How I use our Calendar

To start the school year, I add the days of the week cards to my pocket calendar. Then, I add ‘home’ and ‘school’ icons behind each one days of the week cards to reflect where students will be that day. 

At the beginning of each month, I make a big deal about changing out the monthly header by saying ‘Goodbye [month}, Hello {month}’ and sharing some things that will be happening in that month. I also take this time to mark any special days on the preschool calendar with a special card and tell the class about it.

The calendar helper from our classroom jobs comes up during circle time and chooses a pointer. He or she leads the class in counting the days on the calendar to determine which number will come next. Then, we say the pattern of the cards aloud as the calendar helpers points. We determine which picture will come next. Then, I hand the calendar helper the calendar card to reveal to the class and place in the pocket chart.

We may count how many days left to a special day that has already been marked on the calendar, but not always. We also may focus on what day it is and relate it back to something (like on Wednesdays we have music class), but we don’t always do this. I make sure to judge how engaged students are before adding anything besides counting and patterning onto our calendar time.  All in all, the process takes very little time.  

Do you have a calendar? Do you agree with the use of calendars at circle time?

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