Do you use a linear calendar in your preschool classroom? Calendar time is a big part of the daily routine in many early childhood classrooms. But when you take into consideration how young children actually learn abstract math concepts, such as the passage of time, you may begin to re-evaluate how you approach this topic in your own classroom.
Why a Linear Calendar?
The true purpose of any calendar activity is to track the passage of time. Linear calendars provide a more concrete, visual representation of time. When children can easily see the progression of time stretching in a single line from left to right they will begin to understand the concept more quickly.
A traditional calendar can be confusing for young children because of the line breaks. At the end of each line on a regular calendar, there is a line break that requires the user to go back, or “return sweep” to the left to continue counting in order. While it may make perfect sense to us as adults, young children often struggle with this concept when they are just beginning to understand letters, numbers, and how they work.
What is a Linear Calendar?
A linear calendar can look very similar to a number line. The numbers are placed on the wall in a straight line at or below the seated eye level of the students in your classroom.
Each day during your circle time or morning meeting you can invite a student to help you count the days on the number line. Add some cute pointers to make this job even more fun! Invite the class to count with you.
I prefer to start each month with only one number visible on the wall. Each day we turn over a new number. This allows children to watch the number line grow and helps them grasp the concept of time.
You can indicate the days you don’t have school by placing a picture of a house above or below the number on the line. These pictures help young children visualize and make sense of time.
Use pictures to represent the special events or holidays you celebrate in your classroom. The pictures shown here are from my Linear Calendar kit.
How to Organize the Pieces
If you’re wondering how to store and organize the calendar numbers it’s super simple! Since the numbers are the same each month, we just turn them over on the last day of each month. Each day, I have a helper who turns over the number for that day. On Monday, the helper gets to turn over the cards from the weekend, they love being the Monday helper!
For the special event and holiday cards, I just place those in a plastic sandwich bag and hang it at my eye level on the wall, out of the children’s reach. I can quickly and easily take the bag down and get out any special event or holiday pieces we need for each month. That’s it, easy-peasy!
How to Make the Calendar
If you’re wondering how I keep the numbers on the wall in a straight line, here’s a pro tip. Laminate three sentence strips or three strips of straight bulletin board border. Attach those three strips to your wall and then place your calendar pieces directly on top of the strips.
To attach the numbers to the strip I have used sticky tac or paper clips. Paper clips make it quick and easy for the kids to add a number each day. Just slide the paper clips over the top of the sentence strip or border before you attach it to the wall. Then, just slide a number card up under the clip each day.
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