Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our Classroom Calendar & Circle Time

I've been excited to share our classroom calendar with all of you! I created this about a month ago during my break and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I cross referenced several company made calendars and a couple I've seen on blogs (see here and here) and I included a few of my own ideas to come up with our own version that works for us...

Of course there's the basics - the days of the week, months of the year, the seasons and the calendar itself. The number cards for the calendar will be changed monthly to represent a different theme (e.g. October's cards have a pumpkin, November's have a turkey). As to the number cards, I plan on making most of them (because I guess I like to create more work for myself!) using clip art (found on Google or abcteach.com) and a Word template I created. There are, however, some good and free number cards online - see here and here.

One little annoying thing about this calendar is that it's preset with only five rows of weeks, which means if the beginning of the month falls at the end of one of the rows and if it happens to be a long month, as is the case with October, that last day won't actually make it onto the calendar - notice how the 31st is missing? As the month moves along I'll shift the calendar up and remove the first week. Wish I didn't have to do that though.

In order to make note of the current date, I'm using a little key ring that will dangle on the corresponding day's tack. James moves the ring each day. It has a little star and moon on it, perfect for my astronomy loving boy. :)

I'm teaching James about the passage of time and so I created little pockets for each day of the week with 3 place markers, one for 'today', 'tomorrow', and 'yesterday'. We move them each day and review the days and terminology.

We had no need for a "Color (or letter/number/shape) of the Day" type situation since James already knows all of that, but I did create a "Question of the Day" and "Prayer of the Day" pocket. I'm excited about the questions because they've really encouraged James to vocalize his own opinions on things. The questions are things like: 'If you could be any animal, what would you be?' and 'What's your favorite...' As for the prayers, they came from this beautiful little board book given to James by his Godparents.

James is really into the moon and so I created a little section where we can track the phases of the moon. I purchased the cards from Montessori For Everyone. Of course we had to have a weather section. James LOVES going to the window to look outside and determine which weather card(s) match the day. I downloaded the cards from abcteach.com.

Circle Time
This calendar is just one aspect of our circle time. As I mentioned here, we actually have two circle times - one at the beginning of school and one at the end. Our first circle time starts with a greeting and a good morning song, the Pledge of Allegiance (there's a little US flag on top of one of our bookcases) and then we look to the calendar where we discuss the days of the week, the current day, the passage of time, the season and the months of the year and then we'll do a little fingerplay song (to warm up our hands for work). :) I ask him to think of which work he wants to do first and then I dismiss him to roll out his mat and have fun!
During the 2nd circle time we'll sing another song, talk about the phase of the moon, I ask our question of the day (which we both answer), read a story, sing another song and then end with our prayer of the day.
I know it all sounds like a lot, but it takes no more than 10-15 minutes per circle time and it moves along nicely. Most importantly, James enjoys every minute of it!

Songs
A reader asked me which songs we sing during our circle time. We sing a lot of the basic ones you all know (such as, Itsy Bitsy Spider, If You're Happy, Wheels on the Bus, etc.), and I have a tendency to make up songs quite often. :) I also create a set of songs based on whatever theme we're working on. I take the time to search and find these all over the internet (i.e. I have no specific sites to recommend) and I occasionally make them available to you when/if I have the time to create a PDF document.

Here are a few key circle time songs we sing that you might not know...
::Good Morning - I sing this song, but I changed the last verse to say, "Good morning, good morning, it's nice to see you."
::Days of the Week - this version is really nice and has a easy flow to it (I just couldn't get into the Addams Family version!). I did change the end to say, "...and Saturday, then we start again". The original wording makes it sound like there are two Sundays.
::Months of the Year - this version is sung by the same artist as the Days of the Week song.


~Thank you for your comments!~

69 comments:

welcome to our wonderland said...

great calendar! my girls are in love with the moon (i love watching the moon phases too). love the calendar charm you use and that you have all the dates up at once.

Michelle said...

Oh, I LOVE this. I've been wanting to make up a calendar for my two and this is just perfect!!! i love that its on a push pin board and easily changable. We also are tight on hanging space so how easy would it be to keep this in the closet for storage and bring it out for learning time. Thank you!!!! I'm getting busy on this:-)

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you, Ladies! Yes, it was important to me to have all the dates up at once so James could really get a sense of how time progresses. I also like that it's portable - I move it onto my lap during circle times so James can see it up close and move things around with ease. :)

sbswtp said...

So much fun!!! I love all the stuff that you have included...the Months of the year song is the same tune I use at the end of Mommy and Me Music...(but we do, take your little hand and pop those bubbles...etc...) If you get a chance, check out our calendar routine (I have color,shape and numbers because I am also teaching a 2 year old this year)

http://tolchin.blogspot.com/p/our-calendar-routine.html

Jane Jasmine said...

You make everything so beautiful!!! Thank you so much for sharing your days and your experiences with us!! :)

AndieF said...

Love it! I love the moon phases and the charm and that it is on a corkboard. GREAT job.

(V.Kerr) School Time Adventures said...

Great idea to add the moon phase and a daily question. I think I am going to add a daily question for us! That's funny that you didn't dig the Addams family version of days of the week. I love singing it, however my maiden name is Adams, so as a little girl I would make up songs to that tune all the time!

Jen said...

L-O-V-E it!!!!! You have a great knack for taking something so basic and make it into something so beautiful! I took a close look at the photos and noticed you even color coordinated your staples! LOL You ROCK!

Your circle times sound like a lot of fun. Everything you do really opens my eyes to how little they do at my son's preschool. :(

Kara said...

Looks great! My daughter is also very into the moon- I love that you incorporated that into your calendar!

Discovering Montessori said...

Nice! Great idea using those library card pockets. Thank you for sharing.

fjkelly said...

It looks fantastic! I love the moon phases. Did you laminate the cards? I've realized that a lot of the activities I'd like to do with my daughter need a laminator.

Sippy Cup Central Mom said...

That look great....my girls just love calendar time! You did a great job. Karen
Sippy Cup Central Mom

Raising a Happy Child said...

You really have everything thought out. Great calendar, and I like the idea of "question of the day".

Coedith said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful calendar! Our HS'd daughter is in kindergarten and spends 4 hours a week attending a program with other HS'd children. The teacher does what she calls "calendar math" and I have been looking for a way to bring that home. This fits wonderfully. Also she is always asking "Is today tomorrow?" so the time passage aspect is spot on.

Confessions Of A Homeschooler said...

Looks fun, we do the same songs too! Thanks for sharing, I always love to see your ideas :o)

lady said...

Looks great. One of the things some of the primary (K-3) teachers do at my school is choose more than one shape/symbol for the month and create a pattern. They start with 2 (abab) and get up to 4 (abcdabcd). Later in the year they do more complicated patterns too (aabbaabb), to see if kids can tell what is going to come next.

I love that you have included the moon cycle and the weather. In our kindergarten they dress a paper doll for the day's weather.

Renee said...

I have one that I bought but I really love yours, I love the question of the day and the prayer of the day, how fantastic, may have to add it to ours. Thanks for sharing. hugs n blessings, Renee

sarahssweeties said...

Welcome Back! I'm glad you are! Everything looks great! I can wait to see it all together!

Carla said...

Hi Mari-Ann,

In order to make the 31st fit. cut a calendar square/piece in half to form 2 triangles. The 24th would on the top part and the 31st on the bottom part.WHen you place both triangles in the calendar, they form the square. You will have to adjust the pumpkin design and make it smaller, but at least you don't have to leave the date off. I hope that explanation makes sense?

Carla

meandmyguys2010 said...

I have an idea for you about the space (or lack thereof!) of the 31st day.
My son is VERY visual. He reminds me constantly during the day, "Oh! I remember that word! It was written on the board!" Mind you, he is talking about MONTHS before!! So, you could take the 31st day and put it by the name of the month. That would be a great visual to be imprinted on his mind of the months that contain 31 days. Add the song "30 Days Hath September" to this, and he will know them for life. :)
Hope this helps - I cringed to think about having to change the calendar just because of one day...

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you Carla & meandmyguys2010 for your great ideas on how to add that last day of the month! Once we get the concept of their being weeks, months and years, we'll be adding the "30 days hath September" rhyme. I remember learning that when I was young and still refer to it now and then! :)

Chrismated in Coffeeland said...

What a lovely calendar, i remember doing that with my first dd ws this age but i keep forgetting with my current little ones.

I remember laminating some strips of white card stock and taping them with packing tape to the bottom of that same calendar to extend it.

Also if you are making your own calendar numbers watch for seasonal and number stickers on sale, i made a darling set of Chinese new year animal number cards one February.

You have all pumpkins but its fun to make patterns, pumpkin, pumpkin corn...what will tomorrow be ?

Happy crafting!

Lindsay said...

ooo what fun! I have our calendar up and mostly running. I need to start adding in 1 new part every few weeks. I think we have the other stuff down so far :-) Thanks for linking to the songs. I wasn't feeling the Addams family either!

Counting Coconuts said...

Chrismated in Coffeeland - thank you for your suggestion! When I created the calendar I thought about doing the patterning thing, but decided against it and to keep the calendar as just a calendar. We do other kinds of patterning activities anyway. Plus, creating/printing/cutting 2-3 different kinds of number cards per month would require more time than I have! :) There's really no place to buy premade ones here and to purchase online means hefty shipping and duties fees.

Thanks again for all your suggestions and ideas - I truly appreciate them!

Sybille said...

It's beautiful, interesting and... I love it! Thank you for inspiration!

Sybille
www.buntblume.wordpress.com

2 Pequeños Traviesos said...

I absolutely love your calendar! I came out beautiful. I've been wanted to introduce all these concepts to my 3 yo but didn't know how to do it the Montessori way. But this works fine for us as it involves manipulation. Your homeschool is very structured. I haven't been able to do that with Yamil, yet. His daily rhythm is very lose and simple, which is hard for me as I am very structured and sometimes wish to accomplish too many things.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas!

Jessica said...

If possible, I would love to know the size/dimensions of your tack board so I can better gauge proportions as I try to create my own! Thx! Also, you said the calendar was preset to 5 weeks...is that something that's easy to find/purchase? Thx again!

Counting Coconuts said...

@Jessica, I hope you found my post helpful. The board is 35x24 inches. I have no idea if the 5 week calendar is easy to find/purchase in your area, but I will say that if I was able to find it here on this tiny island, chances are pretty good you'll find it wherever you are.

Jessie said...

This is great! What a fantastic way to show a passage of time! I'm suggesting these changes for school and I'm going to build on for home! Thank you!

Jessie @ WWW.educationofours.blogspot.com

Nancy Nelson said...

this is wonderful! I am so glad my friend refered your blog! I can't wait to read more:)

thisadventurelife said...

Hi! I found you through a thread on SecularHomeschool.com. Your calendar looks great. I love the key ring to show the current date!
Thanks for sharing :)
Warmly,
~h

Laura said...

Hi from Spain!!!!!! I love this activity ... it's very nice because only in one calendar the kis is able to see lot of things... Great!!!!

fjkelly said...

Mari-Ann,

I hope you respond to comments on old posts! I'm in the process of making a calendar for my little one and was wondering whether you used a staple gun to attach all the materials to the board. That's what it looks like, but I wasn't sure.

Thanks,
Fiona

Counting Coconuts said...

@Fiona,

Oh my goodness no, I did not use a staple gun - those things terrify me! :) I actually used a very tiny stapler and colored staples, which I color coordinated to match whatever I was stapling... I'm weird like that LOL!.

Mari-Ann

Deb Chitwood said...

What a great calendar for teaching about time, Mari-Ann! I love the added phases of the moon and daily weather, too. I linked to your post at http://livingmontessorinow.com/2011/01/03/activity-of-the-week-montessori-inspired-months-and-seasons-work/

Caterina said...

Hi Love your blog. Just wondering do you make up your questions of the day or are you getting them from a particular reference(s). Thanks for all your great ideas.

Caterina

Tricia said...

I linked to your blog, specifically about your calendar, in my blog. I've been trying to figure out how to get my classroom calendar area organized and you're ideas are just amazing. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful and creative ideas!
autismandsalvation.blogspot.com

Stephanie said...

Hi Mari-Ann I posted this on my blog! Thought I would let you know! http://discoverydaysandmontessorimoments.blogspot.com/2011/01/our-calender.html

Lori said...

I love your calendar. Thank you for sharing it with us! I linked back in this post.
http://mymontessorimoments.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/first-day-in-our-new-room/

Loving your blog. :)

Counting Coconuts said...

Caterina, I just made up the questions.

Adventures in Cooking said...

This looks GREAT! I am looking to make something and so far this is right up my ally. My only concern is the push pins. I have younger children in my home and I am concerned with the possibility of injury. This is my first time reading your blog. Do you have younger children at home? Has this been a problem for you? I really want to put our chart up somewhere where the kids can touch it. I suppose I might have to keep it out of sight except for at circle time if I have smaller kids around regardless of what it's made out of or I may start loosing pieces! Thanks for the idea! Really this looks wonderful!

Ida said...

Thank you so for sharing! I will make this into my classroom in Sweden!

familyw said...

I love this! Where did you find the 5 week calendar?

Leslie said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I am preparing to homeschool my son (Kindergarten) next month for the first time ever, and this is so helpful! I'm currently trying to make my own calendar and daily schedule, mostly out of felt. I shared your calendar on my little blog. Thanks again!

hiselbobbie said...

I love the prayer cards,great idea!!

Renee Buckley said...

I have been reading your blog for just a few months now, and we have just started are Kindergarten year with K12, its part homeschool/part online. One of the first math units is on the Calendar. I remember seeing your circle time board here and thought something like it would be perfect... So using yours as a guide I set out to build a similar one for our classroom!****Here is my props to you!!! ****This was a huge undertaking, first let me highlight that I own a Sign Company, and in effect I have an entire print shop in my basement complete with 54" Large format printers/laminators/binders and gullitene cutter! As well I am a graphic designer and have an artwork library of over 700K high resolution images.... with all those resources at my disposal I have spent over 20 hours on my calendar! all the little date cards and months, seasons, weather cards... so much! I can't believe you did this all by yourself. WOW! I only hope my little guy will get a few years out of it. How long have you been using yours?

Counting Coconuts said...

@Renee: we've been using our calendar since October 2010.

yeeyeemama said...

i love your calendar, it is neat and beautiful

Michelle @ www.daycareresource.com said...

I love your blog, thanks for the link also!! The Calendar Pieces mentioned are from my site!! http://www.daycareresource.com/calendaritems76859.html

Jennifer O'Marrah said...

I was thinking of putting this together, but needed some ideas, so thank you for the wonderful pics.

Gwen Langan said...

I'm really quite late to the conversation. But wanted to say I recently discovered your blog and I love it! This calendar is something I've been looking to make for six years...but I wasn't sure how to do it. Thank you for the wonderful ideas!

And to Adventures in Cooking: the children that would be using mine would also be quite small! (18 mon to 3 yrs)
So I'm going to use Velcro to attach the movable pieces...I may sew it on for extra durability too.

Kim Lavoie said...

I LOVE this and want to make a similar one for my homeschool room. Can you please tell me where you got your little paddles to show yesterday, today and tomorrow? Also, did you use cardstock for the pockets? I LOVE IT!! :)

Counting Coconuts said...

Kim - I found the paddles at our local teacher's supply store here in Bermuda, and yes, the pockets are made from thick cardstock. :)

Barbara Moore said...

I found a link for free printable weather cards. Thanks for the calendar ideas!
http://www.shop.montessoriprintshop.com/Weather-Tracking-Cards-SCF-23.htm

Unknown said...

Wow, this is fabulous. There are just no great calendars on the market like this, so I plan to blatantly copy your calendar. :)

Just wondering if there was a reason the pockets below start with Monday rather than Sunday? I'm thinking I'll start mine with Sunday to line up with the calendar days unless I'm missing something? Thanks!

Unknown said...

Just wondering what font you use for your calendar? Thanks!

Justin and Lindsey said...

Where did you get the calendar posterboard? Did you make it or buy it and then put on your own numbers?

Justin and Lindsey said...

Love this whole board. I'm wondering where you got the posterboard calendar or did you make it and then stick on your own numbers?
Thanks!

Counting Coconuts said...

Nope, no real reason I aligned them M-Sunday. Subconsciously perhaps it was because that's the beginning of our school week?

The font is Centry Gothic. Nothing fancy, but I did want to be sure the font displayed certain letters in a certain way (e.g. "a" written with the circle-stick style and not the fancy "a" you see here.)

I purchased ALL of the materials here in Bermuda at one of our locally owned stores.

Carolina Rengifo said...

Hello, I love your page and your calendar is amazing.
My son is 21 months old, Do you think is the right time to introduce the calendar to him?

perniagaan KHA said...

very nice
http://kha11.blogspot.com

Counting Coconuts said...

Carolina: I'm sure somewhere there's a hard and fast rule, along with differing opinions re what age is appropriate to introduce calendar themes to a child. Personally, my thought on this is simple: if you feel your child would a) enjoy it, and b) get something out of it, then I say go for it. True, he/she may not fully understand everything you include, but exposure isn't a bad thing, imo. Just have fun with it!

Tally said...

What a brilliant calendar! The date cards you've made are just fantastic, so much better than anywhere else! Sorry if this sounds a bit cheeky but I wondered if you had any winter ones that you wanted to share? You really have done a fantastic job, please keep inspiring us! Thank you!

The Chat and Chew Supper Club said...

I started out with the intention of making a simple weather board for my 2 1/2 year old. But then I found your post and ended up making a something very similar. Thanks for the inspiration. I gave you a shout out on my (very new) blog www.thechatandchewsupperclub.com. I really enjoy your site and hope you will be posting again soon.

Jessi said...

Lots of great ideas here. Thanks for sharing. Where did you get the "yesterday", "today" & "tomorrow" wooden paddle sticks?

Harlin Quincy said...

I wonder if we could use these at some different child care learning centers? I would hate to feel like I am stealing ideas, but I do like them very much. I will check back for a reply comment.

J said...

Hi there. How big is that corkboard? I am seeing 18 x 24 and 24 x 36. Just wondering what size would be best. Thanks! Also, I'd love some thoughts on reasonable color printer!

mejaka said...

Thanks for posting such a great design! I got a lot of inspiration from your calendar! I used a cheap commercial half and half board (whiteboard and cork); drew the month calendar template on the whiteboard with Sharpie and will use wipe-off markers to put the dates each month, with a bright magnet (came with the board!) to mark today's date. For the corkboard side, I made paper labels, fake-laminated them with clear packing tape (fave trick of mine), and tacked them on in an arrangement similar to yours. In our faith we pray extemporaneously, no written prayers; instead I put a Gratitude Pocket from which we will pull a card with something written on it, and talk about being grateful for that thing. The pockets for our Question of the Day and Gratitude are just envelopes; I taped them for strength and tacked them up. It looks great and the boys loved learning about the calendar with it today!

Liz said...

My 5yo and I began putting together our calendar board yesterday. He is SO excited! Thank you for sharing all of your ideas.

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