make a DATE with your calendar

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite parts of my day....calendar! I call it calendar, because we do, in fact, begin by looking at the calendar but it is soooo much more. This is the time of the day when I squeeze in all those super duper important math skills that we need to constantly practice, but can't fit into our math block every day. The best part is that it naturally occurs first thing in the morning so kids are uber focused, I just finished my coffee, and no one has to go to the bathroom yet!

I know it's a bit old school, but I love having a "real" calendar wall in my room. I just can't get into using my Promethean board for this part of the day. There is something kids love about moving the pieces, and I really like that they can view the words and numbers throughout the whole day! I hang all of my calendar components on a chalkboard with magnets. Then I can remove the components and bring them to small group lessons, or the kids can use them at a calendar center. I attach Velcro to the pieces that change (days, numbers, etc) but you can use sticky tack or tape. 

We start each day by updating the calendar. I have used a few different calendars in the past. This is my current set from Creative Teaching Press. You can click here to view their website. We do all of those basic calendar elements you know: month, day, yesterday, tomorrow, etc. This is a great time to help build the confidence of some little learners who may be shy or who need extra support! 

Last year we started writing the date two different ways to meet some learning standards so we do the digital date and the complete date. You can get these signs for FREE at my store starting tomorrow!

Kids love talking about the weather, and it's a great way to tie in some tricky math skills. We describe how it feels and looks outside with words. Then we graph the weather for the week using a pictograph. I use the graph to review application problems! Some of my favorite graph questions sound something like this, "If you only like sunny and cloudy days, how many days did you like the weather this week?" or "If there were 3 more sunny days this week, how many would there be in all?" or "How many FEWER snowy days than cloudy days this week?" 

Of course, we also learn about the number of the day. We circle it on a hundreds chart. (I still love how every first grader thinks school will be over on day 100!) Then we build it with unifix cubes and talk about hundreds, tens, and ones. I used to use straws and then bundle a group of ten, but most of my little learners could transfer that idea to math when talked about place value. We also keep track of the number using tally marks, and we represent the number using coins. We say our money poems each day too!

A few activities are specifically designed to meet those common core standards. We make a number family each day. We repeat the families throughout the year, but it is good fluency practice! We also practice saying our doubles facts or we do our addition to 10 chant

Lastly, we do a counting card and/or game. The counting cards are 29 fun ways to practice counting forward or backward by 1, 5 or 10. The games are quick whole group activities you can use to practice too! I just put all of the cards on a binder ring and hang them on the board.

Phew!! That sounds like a lot, and it is (but it doesn't feel that way when you do it!) My little learners love calendar, because it's fun, and it moves quickly. They don't realize that we are addressing a laundry list of standards when we move across the calendar wall, but I notice it when I teach math!  The important things we do at calendar make my little learners smile and make their brains grow too...and now, we can take a bathroom break!
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