Changing Calendar Time to Be DAP

UPDATED POST with Link to Pieces for a Linear Calendar

Our youngest learners are concrete thinkers; they live in the now. They are not ready for abstract thought. So, let’s ponder the effectiveness of a traditional calendar time that focuses on days of the week, months of the year, patterns, counting, etc. It is not until children are around the ages of 7 to 10 years of age that they are able to judge the relative time from a past event or until a future event will occur. Teaching the skills of time such as yesterday, today and tomorrow, days of the week and months of the year is not developmentally appropriate and can inhibit a child’s confidence in their skills. They may eventually stop participating and/or lose their confidence in their ability to achieve at school.

DAP Calendar Time journeyintoearlychildhood.comThere is little evidence that calendar activities that mark extended periods of time (week, month) are meaningful for children below first grade (Friedman, 2000). National Education Association for Young Children learn best through hands-on learning experiences and that developmentally appropriate practices include “teachers who “mathematize” children’s everyday experiences. For example, they help children learn and practice math skills and concepts during block building, play with games and manipulatives, and movement activities” (Developmentally Appropriate Practice Third Edition). Children will learn patterns, counting, number relationships, etc. best through individual and small group hands-on, meaningful activities, not through the repetitive calendar activities which do not hold any meaning for them. (see https://journeyintoearlychildhood.com/2018/09/05/math-during-free-choice-play/ for pictures of incorporating math into free choice play centers)

If teachers still want to incorporate some type of short calendar routine into their whole group time, here are some more developmentally appropriate ideas:

  • Build concepts of later, before and after by reviewing the daily schedule.pictures of activities
  • Hold calendar time at the end of the day and include a student job of drawing a picture of one exciting event that occurred during the day such as we read The Hungry Caterpillar, we found a caterpillar on the playground, we built a big car, etc.
  • linear 2  Use a linear calendar (7 days). For very young children, the linear calendar should be vertical, just like the daily schedule, and as they grow in their developmental skills, it can be horizontal. Use pictures of home and school- discuss if it is a home day or a school day. Count how many days we have been at school OR chart the weather and discuss how many rainy, sunny, etc. days.   LINEAR CALENDAR PIECES FOR HOME/SCHOOL and WEATHER
  • Start to build the concept of week and month by documenting the work that is Augustaccomplished in the classroom. At the end of each week and/or each month, have the students choose 3-5 pictures from a group of pictures that you have taken over that period of time. They need to reflect on the learning they have done that week and decide as a group which pictures best represent that learning. Jot down children’s comments on notecards. Place the pictures with the comments in a scrapbook or on a large piece of paper to hang in the hallway or classroom. This is a great way to document and showcase children’s learning as well as to demonstrate growth over time.
Resources:
Beneke, Sally J., Ostrosky, Michailene, and Katz, Lilian G. May 2008. Calendar Time for Young Children: Good Intentions Gone Awry. Young Children.
Coople, Carol and Bredekamp, Sue, editors. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs. Third Edition. National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Friedman, W.J. 2000. The development of children’s knowledge of the times of future events. Child Development 71.

 

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Honoring the Process: Open-Ended Art

 

 

When we provide children with open-ended art experiences, children are…

  • learning initiative
  • taking risks by showing originality
  • expressing her/himself through representation
  • formulating unexpected connections
  • building confidence and self- worth
  • engaging in play with art materials that have no “correct” end product
  • exploring in their own way with their choice of materials
  • constructing independent decisions and/or rethinking their decisions based on ideas shared by peers 
  • building theories
  • making decisions
  • developing fine motor skills
  • problem-solving
  • persisting through challenges and staying engaged since it is creation of his/her choice

For example, one child may be painting on the easel, another stringing necklaces of noodles at the sensory table, another creating cookies from play dough, another is creating a dinosaur from collage materials, while yet another is drawing with crayons the illustrations on a self- created picture book- all children do not need to be experiencing art in the same way at the same time.

NO MORE TEACHER DIRECTED TEMPLATE ART…
Children learn so many more skills than they would in the same amount of time completing a template art activity designed by the teacher that often holds no interest for the child.

Provocations can be provided for children to encourage exploration of a specific skill (ie. color blending, making of lines, shapes, 2D representation to 3D representation) while still allowing students to explore and design based on what is meaningful to them.

Example:  One project was cut by teacher and all students made the penguin at the same time, waiting to move to the next step until all children were completed step by step.

One art work was completed by the teacher setting out pictures of penguins, black, white and yellow paper. Teacher joined the center to discuss the design process, ask open-ended questions and provide choices to help students make thoughtful decisions.

process art

open ended art featured image

 

Maintaining Engaged Learning

Since we know that young children learn best through active engagement-  we must stand firm in our support and implementation of instructional practices that support constructing of knowledge through active experiences. We also need to develop and refine our own beliefs about young children in order to defend and protect best practices.

National Education Association for Young Children supports (based on multitude of research) a constructivist approach to teaching and learning in which young children construct their knowledge and understanding of the world through their experiences.

So the question to you is… how are you melding together the research based constructivist type approaches with the early learning standards to provide activities, questions/probes and  materials that are designed to challenge children’s thinking processes and encourage them to dig deeper into their understandings (based on student interest)?