I think we can all agree that having a morning routine in our classroom is a perfect way to begin the day in elementary. My morning routine always begins with our calendar bulletin board for calendar math!
I have to tell you, I never expected calendar time to be one of my favorite times of the day. But here I am… loving it. Ill tell you why. I have found that gathering together as a group first thing in the morning I am able to connect with the class by discussing what our day looks like, reinforce classroom rules we’re struggling with, and revisiting important standards to keep our skills fresh all year long. This is powerful classroom management AND wonderful math teaching strategy. And it only takes 15-20 minutes a day!
What is calendar math?
Calendar math can also be called calendar time or calendar routine. It’s an engaging way for elementary students to learn about time, dates, days of the week, and months of the year. Basically, calendar math is simply the use of a calendar as a tool for teaching math concepts. But I have a secret. Its not just about the calendar. There’s so much more.
At the beginning of the year, my calendar bulletin board starts very simple. I like to put math concepts for students to review from the previous year for the question of the day. By the end of the year my calendar bulletin board includes more difficult math concepts I’d like students to keep practicing. Some teachers will include calendar math during their morning meeting, and other teachers will begin math time with their calendar routine. And some teachers will have calendar math during a math rotation.
The thing that makes calendar time in your classroom EFFECTIVE is that students review math standards that are “tricky” for them on a daily basis. This kind of spiral review of concepts eventually helps the hard problems become easier for your students. YAY!
Since I also hold my calendar time in the morning, I also go over any special things happening that day. Calendar time is also when we talk about any classroom rules and procedures students might need to brush up on.
Teachers often have a classroom job dedicated to their calendar. Student helpers that rotate from day to day make sure that every student in your room has had a turn to interact with your calendar bulletin board!
Classroom management tip: There have been a few years that I had a class that needed a whole lot of movement. I noticed that students were having trouble sitting still and focusing for the entire 15-20 minutes of calendar math routine. So here’s what I tried. I added another calendar helper. One for the first half of the calendar time, and another for the second part of calendar math. It worked! It also helped students interact with the math concepts more often. And those classes really needed it.
Elementary Calendar Math Skills to Practice
Although every teacher’s calendar math routine is different, there are a few skills that should be explicitly taught and reinforced depending on the grade level you’re teaching. And calendar time is a great time to work on these!
When I was a new teacher, I had a cheat sheet of these skills written out beside my calendar bulletin board so I’d know what questions to ask my calendar helpers. Who am I kidding… I need reminders still!
- How to read a calendar
- Identifying the current date and day of the week
- How to write the date
- Counting the days of the month
- Days of the week
- Months of the year
- Seasons of the year
- Yesterday & Tomorrow
- Counting- usually done by days in school, bundle them by tens, then hundreds
- Skip counting
- Representing numbers- usually done with a number of the day with coins, base 10 blocks, etc.
- Elapsed time- counting the days or time until a holiday or special event.
The older your students get, your calendar bulletin board may begin to look more like a math reference wall.
Don’t be afraid to change things up if your students begin to get bored with part of your calendar math routine. Spiral math review is key! Swap it out with something and bring it back later on.
Calendar Bulletin Board Ideas to Spice Up Your Routine
Every elementary classroom includes different things on their classroom calendar bulletin board. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what you put on it. The most important things to remember are to make it work for you and your students and to not let it become boring.
There are some elements that teachers generally include on a calendar wall for primary grades:
- Days of the week
- Months of the year
- Current calendar
- Date written out
- Current year
- Days in school
- Weather- sunny, foggy, rainy, snowy, windy
- Yesterday was…
- Tomorrow is…
Here are some other ideas for things to include on your classroom calendar wall:
- Question of the day
- Number of the day
- Hundreds chart
- Number posters with ten frames
- Daily special
- Class birthdays
- Lunch menu
- Lunch count
- Present student count
- Absent student count
- Shapes- 2D, 3D
- Coins & money
- Skip counting posters
- Lost tooth tally chart
- Any current math anchor charts
You know your students needs based on their grade level and prior knowledge. Feel free to mix it up.
Fifth graders might need to use a number line with negative numbers above your calendar bulletin board instead of a hundreds chart. Go for it!
You could add foreign currency coins and leave off the seasons and weather for your English language learners.
Maybe your third graders and fourth graders need fraction posters as references. You got this!
Why is calendar math important?
Calendar math is important for so many reasons! Here are just a few ways we can answer the question, “What is the purpose of calendar math?”
- Calendar math helps students practice key grade level standards daily to keep their math skills sharp all year long!
- It creates opportunities for students to practice and become confident with math tasks because of repeated modeling and exposure to more difficult concepts.
- Calendar math supports students with a structured routine and a save environment for learning.
- It serves as a place for students and teachers to have positive interactions and conversations using math vocabulary and academic language.
- Calendar math is important because it allows meaningful spiral review every day in very little class time!
Ready to give teaching calendar math a try in your classroom? You wont regret it!