How Do You Teach Calendar Skills?

Early Learning: Teaching Calendar Skills

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Learning the months of the year and the days of the week seems much more abstract than learning about the seasons. Even when they were very young, my kids have grasped the concept of fall, winter, spring, and summer. Obvious things, like the weather and holidays, and things like how the trees look at different times of the year are cues to the seasons. Teaching the months can be a little more of a challenge. Not only are there twelve different names to learn, but then there’s learning their order.

Repetition and Practice

Repetition and consistent practice are the ways I’ve helped my early learners grasp the concept of the yearly calendar. Hands on activities, picture books, and simply talking are some ways we incorporate this life skill into our day.

We have a wall calendar with magnetic tiles the kids place on the grid. This is a great tool for keeping everyone organized–we can look ahead to see when there will be a museum class, a music lesson, a football game, or a birthday.

At the beginning of a new month, we talk about the month ahead as we arrange the tiles on the grid. For instance, “This is January, and Grandma has a birthday coming up.” “We are going to the museum on the seventh.” “January has 31 days . . .”

My youngest keeps a running countdown of how many days until Christmas starting at the beginning of December. He found the day with the Christmas tile and counted back from it each day.

Calendar Skills for Early Learners

Calendar Learning Resources

  • A Busy Year–Leo Lionni’s mice tend to their tree through the year and observe its changes throughout the seasons.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar–Eric Carle’s notorious caterpillar eats its way through the days of the week, growing bigger and bigger with each meal.
  • The Year At Maple Hill Farm–In the Provensen’s beautiful book, follow the animals of Maple Hill Farm through the months of the year as they experience the changes of the seasons.
  • Cookie’s Week–Follow Cookie the cat through the week as he gets into mischief each day.
  • At My Owl Barn, you can download a free customizable owl calendar.
  • Growing Up Creative has a free activity calendar download here. It is from 2011, but the activities are really cool, so we printed them, cut them out, and added them to our current calendar activities. We love hands-on and crafty activities, especially to keep hands occupied during read aloud time.
  • I order each of my kids a Create-a-Calendar from Sonlight Curriculum every year. They look forward to coloring in the pictures and using the included stickers to mark the events on their calendars. We use these in the same way as the wall calendar, discussing things about the month. Each child keeps track of his own schedule in these, so each of them is a little different. This calendar is a great accompaniment to world history or cultural studies, since it features kids from a different country each month. During history read-aloud time, we pull these out for the kids to color in while they are listening.

Through repetition and making the calendar part of our daily life, it becomes less abstract and more of an organizational tool, even for the youngest student (especially when the T-ball schedule gets added in!)

Do you have any calendar resources you’d like to share? Add yours in the comments below!


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Comments (2)

  1. Nancy

    Thank you so much for the Growing Up Creative calendar link and for the suggestion of The Year at Maple Farm–we put it on our reading list right away!

    Hope you have all you need for the microbe biosphere project–don’t hestitate to let me know if you have any more questions.

  2. adrian

    This brought back a really sweet memory. When my son was little, I had the days of the week in a chart on my bedroom door and in the mornings, he would come and snuggle up with me and we would talk about what day it was and all sorts of other stuff. He’s 17 now, so I really miss those days. I’ll take the toddler years over the teenage years any time!


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