What, Denita?! Take that calendar away from circle time? Cut my precious Lakeshore purchased Pocket calendar into strips? Are you crazy?
When I first heard Denita Dinger (Play Counts) explained this on her podcast, Child Care Bar and Grill, I thought that’s innovative, probably smart, creative, but, really, Calendar Time is an easy element to my circle time, why change it? “Who’s the Calendar person? Stand here. What’s the next number? What’s the pattern? “Sunday. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…”
Her idea, however, wormed its way into my brain. It made me sit back, look at the details of my day and evaluate the purpose behind this (okay, let’s be honest here) boring activity. Really, have you ever started singing that song only to realize you were daydreaming and later realized it came out as “Sunday, Thursday, Wednesday, Friday,…Saturday?" Have you ever had a child grasp the concept of time, where we are today, where we are moving towards as we move forward numerically? Maybe, but for 3-5 year olds, probably not.
In full disclosure, I’m a math nerd. I sneak in all the pre-math language and concepts I can while my littles are playing. Then I realized Denita is right. I was missing a huge opportunity to expose children to:
!. the number line,
2. time moving across a distance,
3. One to one correspondence,
4. number recognition,
5. Countless mathematical terms.
So now what.
1. Rip that Lakeshore pocket calendar off the wall.
2. Staple laminated sentence strips across the wall at kid eye level.
3. Place Velcro dots evenly across the strip,
4. Place this month’s name at front of line (February) , next month’s a the end (March),
4. Daily, hide the day’s number,
5. Shut my mouth, sit back, observe.
Amazing. What happened?
1. Now the kids start the day excited about finding the number.
2. Number recognition has increased tremendously without one child sitting criss cross applesauce.
3. Numerical order is relevant. “What’s next? “, “14”, “Oh, it’s after the one with the 1 and a 3”, “13”, “Yep”, I’ll find it”, “Me, too.”
4. Math language is constant “What’s next”, “How many more”, “It’s under, over, beside, next to”.
So, don’t tell Lakeshore, but Denita was right. One of the most rote, unengaging activities has become a highlight of the day. Children repeatedly engage the number line throughout the day. Math concepts are relevant, rolled in and absorbed. And, wow, not once have I had to say, “Shhh, we are counting the days. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday…”