Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday #2 - Calendar fun

A couple of years ago when Abby started preschool, she also started driving us crazy with the questions. "Do I go to school today?", "What about tomorrow, do I have school?". Instead of the same routine of heading to daycare every morning, she now was going straight to preschool on some mornings (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) and to daycare on others. I could see how that would be confusing for a kid!

I decided to do something to help her keep track of what was happening in her life from day to day and realized that this could be for more than just keeping track of preschool/daycare days. By using a calendar, we could keep track of important events coming up - birthdays, holidays, special occasions or trips. We could even 'count down' to special events as well.

I went through a few different ideas of how to make a monthly calendar for her before I settled on the one that we eventually began using - and still use now. I thought about dry-erase boards, but decided that it would be too easy for writing to accidentally wipe off or smear. I wanted something that Abby (and Hannah) could be involved with in putting together every month, which ruled out doing something over the computer. Plus I wanted it to be large enough to read from a distance, which ruled out the standard calendars you can buy every year.

To get some more ideas, I visited a local teacher's store and hit pay dirt. Oh those stores are incredible - even if you're not a teacher! I almost wish I was, so I'd have an excuse to buy all of the cool things they have there that I can't justify the cost of otherwise. LOL

Here's what we do at the beginning of every month. We start out with a piece of posterboard with a pre-printed calendar grid on it. It's slightly more expensive than just buying blank posterboard, but I think it's worth not having to deal with trying to draw straight lines and square boxes every time. I also have a package of colored permanent markers. So far only I am allowed to use the markers - the girls aren't good enough with not getting it on themselves for me to trust them with these. As they get older though, the intention is to have them do all of the writing themselves. We all sit together at the table (it's a bit more difficult with Becca wanting to be involved now though - she's not quite old enough to really 'help', but boy does she want to) and the girls help me count out the days as I write the numbers in the correct boxes.

Then we pull out the stickers and the girls go to town. I've been able to find a lot of stickers that are appropriate for certain activities - crosses for church days, soccer balls for soccer days, etc. We get a bit creative though as well - this month we're using gold stars for soccer days since I ran out of soccer ball stickers and can't seem to find ones with just soccer balls and not the footballs and baseballs as well (anyone want a bunch of football and baseball stickers?). We use 'book' stickers for school days - last year we had to do two separate colors every month for Abby and Hannah since they went on different days, but this year we are able to do just one 'book' sticker for both since they both go every weekday now. We put on 'car' stickers for road trips, special holiday stickers for birthdays, parties and other holidays and events. I add a 'B' for our daycare provider's name on every day that they go to daycare. When it's done, we have a little ceremony where we take off the previous month's calendar and tape the new one to their closet door.

The girls love the calendar. We 'cross off today' every night at bedtime and look at what they'll be doing the following day and see if there's anything special coming up. We count down the days to special events, like school starting or birthdays. We add interesting things we've done that day so the calendar's always up to date. It's really helped the girls start to understand the concept of time - days, weeks, months ('calendars' as they call it). And helped with their counting - up to 31, anyway! They really feel ownership of it since they help make it every month. And it keeps them from asking over and over again - when are we going to do such-and-such? I just tell them go look at your calendar.

I know we'll have to make some changes as Becca gets older and more involved. Having the calendar in a more central location instead of on Abby and Hannah's closet door will be important once Becca starts understanding the idea. But we'll adapt it as we need to. Ron wants to make some kind of a chart for them now that includes countdowns to things that happen more than one month away - like Christmas - and I think that will help them start to put the concept of 'months' into a 'year' as well.

Do you do anything to help your kids keep track of special days and events in their lives? I'd love any more ideas that we can incorporate. And check out other tips for Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer!

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9 wonderful people said...:

Laura said...

What a great idea! I might have to try something like that soon w/ my daughter. I think she would get a kick out of that.

Melanie said...

I love this! What a great idea. I was a teacher before I became a SAHM and we did stuff like that in the classroom. It certainly helped with all the questions like, "When are we taking out trip to the museum?"

Anna said...

What a neat idea! It sounds like so much fun. You get together time when you make the calendar every month, as well as helping the girls understand what is happening every day.

We used to do paper chains to count down to stuff - like vacation. They would get to take a ring off the chain every day, and then when the rings were all gone, it would be time. They could always know how many days were left by looking to see how many rings were left on their chain.

Ann said...

That's a great idea! I'll have to try it--my kids are always asking, "where are we going today, Mommy?"

we are reilly said...

LOVE this idea -- when we move, I'm going to try to start something like that...

my minivan is faster than yours said...

Brilliant! I love buying my kids crafts and toys from teacher stores, too. They're pricey, but they've got some great stuff.

Tara Jones said...

i just found your blog and i love it! when i was a kid i would make my own paper chain (paper rings attached to each other) and tear off a piece of the chain every day to count down to....whatever!

Thea said...

I do something similar, but i'm thinking i might have to steal yours! I just have a weekly chart that we keep redoing every sunday so he only sees a week at a time. We've been doing that enough now that I've considered getting him a calendar but your idea rocks!

Zen Master said...

That is a terrific idea. My kids don't care about anything but the school lunch calendar. They pour over that thing as if it were gold.