August 23, 2012

Calendar Time in Pre-K???

So, how many of you have ever used calendar time in your pre-k or kinder classroom? I know I have! It's one of those things you do just do because that's what everyone does. I mean...doesn't everyone do calendar time?? It seems to be such an integral part of any early childhood classroom.

Now, I have a different question...

How many of you have pulled your hair out while trying to do your calendar time? The kiddos get restless...they have NO idea how to figure out what today is...they think Saturday comes after Tuesday...they think "yesterday" means anything that happened at any point in their lives before they went to sleep the night before... Yeah, been there, done that!

But, for some reason, we just keep on doing it. Day, after day, after day... Sure, there are some kids that get it. Sure, there are some skills that we actually can teach effectively during calendar time. But, is it the best use of our time in an early childhood classroom? Is it the best way to get our kiddos to understand the passage of time? Is it the most effective way to teach those few things that they do actually learn?

I say...NO! And, the NAEYC agrees with me!

I am one of those teachers that doesn't do anything that is not purposeful. This means, basically, that I do my homework. I read. I research. I study. Then, I decide what to do in my classroom. So, naturally, when I found out I was moving to pre-k, I was on the hunt for anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding best practices in pre-k. One of the most perspective-changing things I read was an article called, "Calendar Time for Young Children: Good Intentions Gone Awry." You can read it for yourself here. This article (along with some other research I found) really made me rethink how I was using that 20-30 minutes every day that I normally spent on calendar time. So...I started thinking...and thinking...and thinking...

What do I know about prekinders that makes it necessary for me to adjust how I do my calendar time?

#1   Prekinders need to develop the concept of  yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
#2   Prekinders are not able to really grasp the concepts of days of the week or months of the year. They may be able to sing them or regurgitate them, but they don't understand them.
#3   Prekinders need to develop their numeral recognition and proficiency with the counting sequence in authentic, meaningful contexts.

All of this led me to some MAJOR realizations about calendar time!!!

#1   There is really no place for a traditional calendar time in a developmentally appropriate pre-k classroom.
#2   To deepen prekinders understanding of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we need a daily activity that is solely focused on that skill.
#3   To deepen prekinders understanding of the passage of time, we need a concrete, linear representation of the days as they pass.
#4 There are MANY different ways to expose my prekinders to the math skills generally covered during calendar time. does all of this transfer into a real classroom on a daily basis?? Well, let me tell you what I'm planning on doing!

During our math circle time, we will be doing lots of activities to reinforce numeral recognition and the counting sequence. BUT..small groups and centers are where the real development of these concepts will take place. My kiddos will learn to count by counting varied objects during centers. They will learn to recognize numerals by playing games and engaging in different small-group and center activities where numerals naturally occur. They need to be learning and practicing these skills in authentic ways as much as possible.

Now, for the passage of time... This is where it really looks different! Rather than posting a calender and adding a new number to it every day, I have spots set aside to post five different pictures that we will do at the end of each day. During our closing circle time, we will talk about all the things we did that day. Then, we will choose one of them to draw. (At first, I will draw the pictures. In time, the kiddos will take it over!) We will also write a sentence to go with the picture. Then, the next day during our math circle, we have a child-generated representation of "yesterday" that is very real and tangible to them. We can talk about what happened yesterday, what we might be doing today, and what they think we will do tomorrow. The pictures will stay up for the week, then I will move them into a folder to create an ongoing class journal of our year. This will give us a long-term reference for things that have happened in the past. Here is what our picture display looks like (sans pictures, of course!):
Another way we will document the passage of time is by simply making a paper chain that has one link for each day we've been in school. On either side of our picture display, there will be a paper chain. One for pre-k 3 and one for pre-k 4. We will add 10 links to the chain, then it will move up to the wall, and we will start a new one. Every 10 links we will also change the color. As we go through the year, they will be able to see a concrete representation of just how long we've been in school, even if they don't have the concept of the bigger numbers yet.

In addition to all of this, we will be doing a whole-group math journal every day. This is where I can target skills that most of my kiddos need extra help with, skills that we just need repetition with, or problem solving skills. But, my biggest focus will be on the problem solving aspect. I really want to get them thinking about how to figure something out.

So, there it is! No calendar time in Mrs. A's room!


  1. I am a PreK teacher myself and I am very interested in your whole group math journals. Do you have a master set? I'm curious about the topics and types of ativities. I have written a set of 180 math journals for kindergarten (when I taught K a few years ago). There are definitely some I could use with prek kids. If your interested in sharing some info - I'd love to chay via email
    thanks - Connie

    1. My math journal is definitely a work in progress! I'm not even going to start it with my kiddos until next week. But, I would love to share ideas! I will definitely be emailing you in the very near future!

  2. I would also be very interested in math your journals! I'm in a new school that has no curriculum and I'm trying to piece together great ideas! I have extended day and son't know meaningful activities to fill the time! I would appreciate any ideas that you have! My e-mail is Thanks!

  3. Hi There
    I am a teacher of 5-6 yr old in New Zealand and had no idea what calender time was because we don't do it here in New Zealand.I love to see teachers who think for themselves rather than just following the crowd!Keep it up!

  4. Address the development needs of early childhood programs and the development of young children from birth to 6 years of age, and their families, and their communities. They are multi-dimensional and designed to support children's health and nutrition, cognitive, social and emotional capabilities, enabling them to survive and thrive in subsequent years. Reflects cultural values​​, and they must be deeply rooted within families and communities, and the mix is known about the environments that promote optimal growth of the child with an understanding of traditional child-rearing practices that support and / or limit the growth of the child. The objective of early childhood development strategy is to help ensure that families get their children to school entry age, not only healthy and well-nourished, but intellectually curious, socially confident, and equipped with a solid foundation for lifelong learning. Development and implementation of programs to provide the best start in life to the age of the youngest children before their schools (kindergarten), as well as to support the school-age children who are out of school and missed out on their education by providing them with non-formal education and vocational training.
    toddler to preschool activities

  5. Children hold photo calendars and also daily activities benefit see how trial with the help of your daughter or son works. When a mum or dad, you wish to hang out with your daughter or son along with you desire this point for being lovingly recalled because of your child. Inside of a parting and also breakup event, the item changes to use a sensible and also alike itinerary of which serves both parents and child. Building a young child hold date may be a essential solution to essential local licensing your kid's gatherings per put along with so, who will pay out the ones gatherings together with your child. For more information visit my friends website :Children activity Organizer