Thursday, January 27, 2011

How do you teach the calendar?

We continuously work on calendar skills in our homeschool.  Learning the months of the year and the days of the week seems much more abstract than learning about the seasons.  Even when they were very young, my kids have grasped the concept of Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer because of obvious things like the weather and holidays, and also because of things like "how the trees look."  Teaching the months can be a little more of a challenge, so I thought I'd share some ways we incorporate this life skill into our day.  We have a wall calendar (shown above) by Melissa & Doug which has magnetic tiles you place on the grid.  This is a great tool for keeping everyone organized--we can look ahead to see when there will be a museum class, a music lesson, a football game, or a birthday.  At the beginning of a new month, we talk about the month ahead as we arrange the tiles on the grid.  For instance--"This is January, and Grandma has a birthday coming up.  We are going to the museum on the seventh.  January has 31 days..."  My youngest kept a running countdown of how many days until Christmas starting at the beginning of December. He just found the day with the Christmas tile and counted back from it each day.

I have ordered each of my kids a Create-a-Calendar every year, and they color in the picture and use the included stickers to mark the events on their calendars.  We use these in the same way as the wall calendar, discussing things about the month, only each child keeps track of his own schedule in these, so each of them is a little different.  This calendar is a great accompaniment to world history or cultural studies since it featues kids from a different country each month.  During history read-aloud time, we pull these out for the kids to color in while they are listening.  You can see sample pages here

This year, because we have used the Create-a-Calendar so much, I was looking for something a little different.  I printed out three of these free from Growing Up Creative on cardstock and then had them spiral-bound at a local print shop.  These are really fun, packed with activities, and thought there aren't any pre-printed stickers with them, my kids are old enough to write in their calendar events.

There are several good picture books that tackle the days of the weeks and months of the year as well:

The mice in Leo Lionni's A Busy Year tend to their tree through the year and observe its changes throughout the seasons.

Younger kids will love to follow Cookie the cat through the week as he gets into mischief each day.

Eric Carle's notorious caterpillar eats its way through the days of the week, growing bigger and bigger with each meal.

And the Provensen's beautiful book follows the animals of Maple Hill Farm through the months of the year as they experience the changes of the seasons.

Through repetition and making the calendar part of our daily life, it becomes less abstract and more of an organizational tool, even for the youngest student (especially when the T-ball schedule gets added in!)


Update:  My Owl Barn has a free customizable 2011 owl calendar you can download.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sugar Snow

We opened the front door to another winter wonderland today.  We don't get much snow, and this was like a blizzard!  After the boys played outside for a couple of hours, we decided to try to make snow cream.  We thought we got it right, but it didn't taste like it even with more vanilla.  After some research, I realized we forgot the sugar!  Everyone added a few spoonfuls to their bowls, mixed it up, and declared it perfecto!

Here is the recipe:

1 cup milk
1/2 cup SUGAR
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (but we added about 3 times that)
Mix in enough clean snow until it gets creamy like soft ice cream.