In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about the calendar, months, and dates. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Calendar and Dates topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching Calendar and Dates
What’s In a Name?
To help children remember the days of the week, discuss the origins of each name. It may be helpful for children who are familiar with a Romance language, such as Spanish, German, Italian, or French, to link the day names together. Sunday comes from the Latin dies solis, “sun’s day,” which is the name of a pagan Roman holiday. It is also called Dominica, and the words for Sunday across Romance languages, such as domingo (Spanish), sonntag (German), and dimanche (French) share the same origin. Monday comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for “moon’s day,” monandaeg. Tuesday was named after the Norse god Tyr. The Spanish word for Tuesday is martes, which was named after the Roman god of war, Mars. Wednesday was named after the Norse god, Wodan or Odin. The ancient Romans named it after the god Mercury, as in miércoles in Spanish. Thursday was named after the Norse god Thor. The ancient Romans named it after Jove or Jupiter, as in jueves in Spanish. Friday was named after the Norse goddess Frigg. The ancient Romans named it after the goddess Venus, as in viernes in Spanish. Saturday was named after the Roman god Saturn, as in sábado in Spanish.
Have students make fact cards for each day of the week. They can decorate their cards and write a description of the origins of the day’s name on the other side, or even write the name in different languages. Then they can use these fact cards to make their own calendars.
Create a class wall-calendar together. Each month should have the name of the month and days, as well as the numbers. Also add the number of the month in the corner so students get accustomed to associating a number with the month without having to count off on their fingers. One easy way for children to figure out if a month has 30 or 31 days is by using their hands. Have children make two fists, with the fingers facing down. Bring the fists together so that the top knuckles align. Each knuckle represents 31 days and each divot between the knuckles represents 30 days. January represents the leftmost knuckle, which stands for 31 days. Students will have to remember that February follows its own rules. You will see that the right knuckle of the left hand and the left knuckle of the right hand are right next to each other. These knuckles represent July and August respectively, which each has 31 days.
Maintain the class calendar together, adding notes for important dates, such as quizzes, exams, assignments, and holidays. Children may also want to add their birthdays, and schedule a party for the summer birthdays.
Some languages share cognates with English. Cognates are words that have the same origin. For example, the Spanish word for calendar is calendario. Encourage students to research names for the days of the week and months in different languages. Have students who are bilingual share their words with the class. Then discuss how the words are alike and different from their English counterparts. If possible, write the words on the board so students can visualize how the words are similar.
Have students create their own calendars. Print out blank calendars from the BrainPOP Jr.’s activity page and have students fill in the month, names of the days, and the numbers. Students can decorate each page of the calendar with a scene that is related to the month. For example, a student may want to draw a snowman for the month of December or draw their own birthday party for the month that contains their birthday. Discuss different school holidays, such as spring break and winter vacation and add them to the calendar. Students can present their calendars to their families as gifts.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching Calendar and Dates
Make a family calendar with your child. You can print out blank calendars from BrainPOP Jr.’s activity page and write in the name of each month and add the numbers for the days together. You and your child can pick family photos together or draw pictures to decorate each month. As you go through each month together, discuss important dates, such as birthdays, anniversaries, practices, rehearsals, and appointments. Also discuss events that happen in each month, such as holidays, and describe different seasons and weather conditions. Encourage your child to use complete sentences as he or she describes each month. At the end of each day, have your child put an X over the day and say the date for the next day.
Together make up a song to help your child memorize the names of the month and days of the week. You may want to use the tune of an old favorite, like “Yankee Doodle” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” or make up your own tune. Your child may also want to rap instead of sing. Sing the song together while getting ready for bed, on the way to school or home, and during clean-up times. You may also want to combine the song with an activity such as washing hands so that your child spends enough time to do the activity properly.
Over the course of a week, create an acrostic poem with your child for each day of the week. Use the first letter of a day of the week to write a line of poetry. Encourage your child to use details that are specific to that day, such as Monday being soccer practice or Friday being family night. Keep the poems on hand and at the beginning of each day, read the day’s acrostic poem together.
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