Do you have a classroom calendar time or routine? Keep reading for some tips and activities to make the most of this popular daily classroom routine.
I was a classroom teacher for 20 years and I always had some type of calendar time or routine. It was an important part of our day as a whole group meeting time, a way to practice all sorts of related math standards daily and (we can’t forget the obvious) a time to check out our calendar… the date, where we were in the month/year, what was coming up etc.
During the last few years calendar time has became somewhat controversial. Some of the criticisms are… that it takes too long, it’s repetitive, students aren’t actively engaged, it takes up too much wall space and is not the best use of instructional time.
Here are some tips to help avoid these pitfalls. Calendar time can help build a sense of community, be a favourite classroom routine and a quick and effective way to practice all kinds of math standards!
Don’t add to your Morning Meeting
Calendar time doesn’t have to be part of your morning meeting! It really becomes too long for students to sit and concentrate when you are trying to do all the things each morning. My calendar time was at the beginning of our math block (which makes sense because it fits into the math standards). Most years my math block was after lunch which made this a nice time to gather and to reset before the afternoon.
The great thing about a calendar routine is that you can cover a multitude of math standards… but that can also be its downfall! I definitely have fallen into the trap of adding more and more activities to my calendar routine until it is getting tediously long! You have permission to not do everything! You can make a schedule where on each day of the week you do a different task… (ex Mondays – check & graph the weather, Tuesdays – days of the week, Wednesday – count how many days you have been in school etc). If something needs to be kept track of daily, it can be the job of a classroom helper. Or (this is what I preferred)… change out the activities on a monthly basis based on your math standards.
You Don’t Need a Calendar Wall or Bulletin Board
Not having a dedicated calendar wall really freed me up to not do all the things! I’m not the kind of personality to leave things undone… when I had a weather chart on our calendar wall we would have to check the weather everyday! I eventually whittled it down to only having the How many days in School? ten frames (which we did everyday), Birthday graph and Missing Tooth Chart displayed all year. Each month I added a few calendar activities to the mix. I used our white board and magnetic tape to quickly change these up. My calendar itself was in a pocket chart that was hung off to the side. I moved it onto my easel during calendar time but otherwise it did not take up an huge amount of space. I did make sure it was still accessible to students because they loved to look at it and count down days until birthdays and special events (didn’t want to stop that authentic math practice!). FYI If you have the room for a math calendar wall and want one that’s great too!
Match Your Math Standards
Calendar routines have become popular because of all the math standards you can practice daily! I think the repetitive practice is what makes it powerful. I usually changed up the activities monthly to give us some sustained practice. You can match the math objectives you are currently learning or standards already covered for more of a spiral review. Here are some of the math concepts that you can practice just using the number of the day (either the calendar date or how many days you have been school which ever is more appropriate)… 1 more/1 less, drawing a set, counting on/counting back, number word, tally marks, odd/even, base ten, number sentences and more!
Make it Interactive
An easy way to make sure all your students are actively engaged is by adding in white boards. The teacher or student helper can lead the activities and everyone else can follow along with their own white board. You don’t need to do this every day but adding white boards in one or two days a week can help with engagement.
Use Your Calendar as a Calendar!
Make sure to take the time to use your calendar as a calendar not just a means to teaching a bunch of math standards. My students loved looking at the calendar and checking out what was coming up or happening that month. I added up coming school events to our calendar such as holidays, birthdays, lost teeth and more. It was referred to daily by my students! I never forgot to change up my calendar for a new month because my students were excited for the new calendar numbers and would remind me!
The most important take away is to not be stuck in the same old calendar routine year after year. Make adjustments for student needs & attention spans, your schedule, your curriculum, wall space and best teaching practices. Hopefully you have found a few tips to help make the most of calendar time in your classroom!