April 2018 -

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Ben Throop

An Interactive Approach to Calendar Time

In almost every Kindergarten classroom, the morning begins with the infamous Calendar. I have worked with many children who have difficulty picking up this abstract skill. For many kids, the calendar is simply many words to memorize: 7 days of the week, 31 numbers, 12 months, and 1 year. For one of the children I work with in particular, this had been an area we had been “teaching” for a year or so. He learned the days of the week, the months of the year, and could identify numbers up to 40. So, why was he still struggling with the calendar?

Well, for starters, he was having trouble discriminating between months, years, and days. For a child with a history of difficulty in discriminating skills, calendar was a time to sit and pick at shoe laces. Repeated practice was not helping him discriminate in these areas. With some prompting to the relevant parts of the calendar, he was a bit more successful. Still, there remained the issue of his not paying attention. Rather than switching out his shoelaces to ones that did not steal his attention, I decided to change our teaching procedures. After talking to a few other professionals, I tried two strategies to address my concerns.

First, I made a calendar board for him to use during calendar time in the classroom. Rather than sitting and waiting to be called on (which he never was), he was given his own “calendar” board. This board allowed him a chance to participate with each question (i.e “What month is it?”). Since we are also working on reading, each month and day was written out, cut, and laminated. I color coded the text of these months to be green, and days to be blue. Then I had each number (purple) and the years (orange) typed out as well. I then took a long piece of cardstock and filled his board with 4 horizontal Velcro strips. Each strip held the days, months, numbers, or years. At the top was one long strip with 4 pieces of Velcro: one for each day, month, number, and year. This allowed him to scan the possible responses, choose the correct response, and place it up on the top “date” strip.

I also took pictures of all of his therapists, his camps, his afterschool activities and made 2x2 squares of each using a Mrs. Riley template. After school, on his own large calendar in his room, we taped (or velcroed) what he was doing each day or who he was seeing that afternoon. These visuals were placed on the calendar at the start of the day. The visuals were meant to give some concrete element to the abstract notion of “Tuesday” or “July.”

Within days, he was finally beginning to discriminate between the different skills. He would now scan his calendar and look at what he did today, go up to the top and tell me “It’s Tuesday!” And then we’d talk about his vacation coming up in “July.” This made sense to him. He also began participating much more during calendar time. Without direct teaching, he has also learned to recognize and spell all the days and months of the year! As a result, the visuals and calendar board had helped this child who had struggled with these skills for over a year, learn them fluently within weeks.


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