I always used to buy the published laminated calendar package for my primary classroom. Every September, I’d get blank stares from my students when I tried to explain why the turkey was in November and the July fireworks were flanked by a flag with stripes. (If there was a Canadian multi-cultural calendar package, I never found it!)
Then one year, mostly by accident, I created a monthly timeline that proved to be a year long teaching tool that really worked. I printed the months of the year on large pieces of construction paper and posted them in chronological order around the top of the classroom. As each month passed, I added photos, lost teeth records, birthdays, art work and class souvenirs. My students had a genuine timeline in a prominent position. We could look back, count ahead and see the names of the months. More importantly, we could reference time as it related to our shared personal experiences and identify cultural events that were significant to individual students. To further individualize the project, each student created their own scrapbook of monthly events. It served as a record of events, family celebrations and accomplishments. It validated each student’s experience in this world.
Time is a difficult concept for young children to grasp. Sure, they can memorize the months of the year or the days of the week, but can they tell you what day it is or what happened in November? The permanency of a personalized timeline gives young children the necessary time to gradually process the concepts of months, seasons and a year.
Whether it happened by accident or design, share what you do to help young children understand the abstract concept of time.
Christine Jenkins is a grade one teacher in Simcoe County. Over the past 24 years, she has worked as a Reading Recovery™ Teacher Leader, a literacy resource teacher, a literacy coach, and has taught grades one through 8. Chris is passionate about teaching children to read, especially children at risk, and believes that success in the early grades is of the utmost importance. Since 2001, she has concentrated her own professional development in literacy instruction. She holds a Master of Education.