Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaching Toddlers Days of the Week

In my home we don't have strictly set schedules, but we do have a natural rhythm of the day.  This has come about more or less organically as I've allowed the twins to explore the best times for them to play/eat/sleep rather than set my own schedule and make them
work around it.  Since we don't have many places we must be, this works well and harnesses their energy at the right time.
Taking all that into consideration, we do have set days for shopping, church, nanny, art class, playdates, etc.

I found around age 2 my boys were suddenly very interested in 'when' things were going to happen.  They didn't have the concept of 'time' and 'days'.  I'm not sure they even quite grasped 'tomorrow' but I knew they were very curious about these things and sometimes getting frustrated at not knowing what was going to happen next.
I came up with the idea of creating a monthly calendar art project.  I used a big piece of poster board and after making the lines and writing  the days of the week, I enlisted their help to color it with markers and crayons.  They weren't much interested in this aspect of beautification--yet, but they jumped on the idea of stickers.

Together we decided which stickers would represent the:

  • Days we went grocery shopping (easy, since TJ's gives out stickers!)
  • Church (safari animals as they have giant stuffed animals in their kid class)
  • Days Mama had to travel (a frog!)

We also designed a special symbol for the days the nanny came, drew a pizza for the day we planned a pizza making play date, wrote the word ZOO and ART (which they can now identify) for the days of their art classes and special trips and found stickers/drew symbols for any misc activities.

Our first monthly calendar was in February--the month we were leaving for Costa Rica.  I taped the calendar right by the table so they had many chances to look at it and study it.  It was a huge success as every morning I would get the big black marker and "X" out the previous day as we counted down the days until we got on the airplane (a very poorly drawn airplane as we could not find a sticker).
That month I could really tell a difference as we prepared for the day.  They could look at the calendar and know what was happening that day and see what was in the future.

Two months later, they have become much more verbal and can now tell me the exact days the nanny comes, that we go to church (Some Day!), shopping, etc.
While I didn't 'teach' them (as in drilling or reading a book) the days of the week, they learned it simply through using the calendar as a daily tool.

Last night I found Grunter looking at a photo of his cousin.  He knows we are going upstate for a family visit this month.  He looked up at me and said, "I go choo choo train.  Cousin (name) two weeks."  He may not know exactly how long two weeks is, but he certainly is paying attention to the countdown!
I'm so proud of them and how much they are learning.

I think next month's calendar will be in English and Spanish...


Anonymous said...

This is a FABULOUS idea. I'm stealing it - thanks!!

Amanda said...

We have been doing a giant family calendar (with stickers and crude drawings) for about the last 5 months and it does work great with getting little guy "ready" and "anticipating" when things are going to happen. We even found some red cross stickers that we place on days we have pedi appointments, something he does not enjoy but it helps him to know when it is coming. We also make chain links out of construction paper to countdown to trips, special visits, and holidays and LM loves ripping off a link every night before bed!

Inlocoparentis said...

This is such a cute idea!!! I'm totally stealing it too.

reproducinggenius said...

What a great idea! I'm stealing it too. I just loved reading about what this has done for your boys. Dealing with time is so difficult for wee ones, but a visual with clear markers of what happens when is so nice. Can't wait to do this!

K said...

We started using a calendar recently too and I forgot how joyful an exercise crossing off the days can be for kiddos! I love the sticker idea - definitely going to add those into our current routine.