Calendar math: Maximizing skill work

Whether you are new to daily calendar time or a seasoned veteran, it can be difficult to think about adding one more thing to your morning calendar routine. However, incorporating math into your daily calendar time can be a quick, fun, and easy way to get in some math review each day. There is so much more you can do with your morning calendar than just the date and the weather. I am excited to share with you how I implemented calendar math for the last 13 years of teaching in my first-grade classroom.

Use your daily calendar time as an opportunity to practice and review important math skills

Why is calendar math important?

Calendar math is an incredible way to reinforce essential math skills throughout the year. It’s the perfect opportunity to enrich instruction and expose students to meaningful math skills every day. Calendar math makes the perfect math warm-up each day and will truly engage students in mathematical thinking.

In addition to practicing math skills, calendar math also gives students the opportunities to work collaboratively with their peers as a whole group to solve the daily math problems. This helps to reinforce learning and build confidence in all of your students. What an amazing way for your kiddos to start their day!

Start The year out right with calendar math

Starting on day one, including calendar math in your morning routine will set the tone for the entire year. While the structure of our morning calendar work will evolve from teacher-led to student-led, the process should stay the same.

In my classroom, everyday calendar math would include:

  • Today’s Date (Months of the Year, Days of the Week, Using a Calendar)
  • Today’s Weather
  • The Number of Days in School
  • Number of the Day
  • Ways to Make… (different ways to make and represent the number of the day)
  • Math Review

In my classroom, I used a weekly calendar helper as one of my classroom jobs. The calendar helper was always there to assist, standing by the calendar math bulletin board.

In the beginning of the school year, I led and modeled the process of working through the calendar math activities. However, as the year progressed, the calendar helper was able to take on more responsibility and eventually lead the instruction. By using a consistent calendar routine the students quickly learned the procedures.

Organizing your calendar

Whether you are using your whiteboard, chart paper, a projector, or a bulletin board, organizing your calendar math is essential for a stress-free calendar math time.

I really liked having a dedicated bulletin board to use for our daily calendar work. I would print off the posters and prompts, laminate them and hang them on the bulletin board to use all year long.

Part of my calendar bulletin board set-up that included traditional calendar tasks and more math skills

Of course, the main focus of the calendar work is the calendar itself. A pocket chart is a perfect resource to use for your calendar because it will allow you to change out and change the days, special events, and months of the year with ease.

I liked to have everything for the calendar printed and ready to go before the first day of school. That way when the first of the month rolled around I could quickly and easily grab the new month card, new holiday cards and new number cards if needed.

Calendar skills

Learning about the calendar is the starting place for the daily calendar time. Each day calendar time would begin with identifying the day on the calendar. Once we added or identified the date, we reviewed the month of the year. Students then learned how to use the calendar to determine the day of the week. Depending on the needs of the students, we would also review the months of the year and the days of the week.

Number of the day

Next, we would count the number of days we had been in school. This can be used to reinforce counting skills and was also as the number of the day. We would use this number to complete a variety of number sense related activities as part of the calendar routine. You can also use a random number that lines up with your teaching standards as the number of the day.

Ways To Make…

The first activity with the number of the day is “Ways to Make.” Finding multiple ways to represent a number is a great way to incorporate lots of different math skills.

By keeping a tally of the number of days we had been in school we could then use a sentence strip that said, “We have been in school for ___ days.” Students learned how to properly make tally marks, and as the year progressed we also used the tally marks to practice counting by fives.

Next, we would brainstorm as many different ways we could think of to represent the number. This would include standard number form, word form, expanded form, base ten blocks, and addition or subtraction sentences.

As the year progressed, my students became more proficient and were able to move on to skills such as using mental math, using money to represent the number, and even a little multiplication. I think it’s so important to expose students to these skills at an early age. I loved how incorporating calendar math into our morning calendar work made our math review quick, easy, and most of all fun!

Telling time

Add telling time to your daily calendar work with calendar math.

In my classroom, telling time was a daily part of our calendar routine. I did this daily because it is always a skill that students struggle with. By incorporating it into our daily calendar math, I was able to review our key concepts in a fun and engaging way my students loved! I would start out with the first few months of school focusing on telling time to the hour then progress to the minute, and 5 minute intervals.

I used an interactive clock with an easy-to-move hour and minute hand attached to the poster with a brad. The calendar helper loved setting the time each day. When it was time to record the time on our morning calendar we would use a sentence strip with blank spaces and sticky notes to fill in the blanks. The sentence strip read, “The time is ___. It is ___ minutes after ___ o’clock.”

Then we would sing an adorable song.

Do you know what time it is? Time it is? Time it is? Do you know what time it is on Brown Bear’s clock? Yes, I know what time it is. Time it is. Time it is. Yes, I know what time it is. It’s ___!

Add telling time to your daily calendar work with calendar math.

This was a great way to get those musically inclined learners engaged. And . . . the repetitive aspect of this telling time activity makes it a great calendar math activity.

Review Activities

After completing the daily morning calendar skills, I would choose one additional skill to highlight each day. This became an easy way to build a spiral review into our daily schedule. This also helped me make sure I was hitting each of the important math skills my students were learning throughout the year.

Our math review skills included:

  • Comparing numbers
  • More and Less
  • Money
  • Shapes

Instead of focusing on all of these skills everyday, I was able to use that same chunk of time to dig into a single skill with more depth.

I would choose the daily skill based on what my students needed. We might do a money review for 2-3 days in a row in order to help the students review or get some additional practice.

Reviewing 2D and 3D shapes during calendar math

You can also do one additional activity for each day of the week.

  • Monday – Money
  • Tuesday – Comparing Numbers
  • Wednesday – 2D and 3D Shapes
  • Thursday – More and Less
  • Friday – Problem Solving

Trust your teacher instincts to choose the plan that best helps your students. In fact, you could even do a combination of both. Have a weekly routine, but if you come across something your students need extra practice with, don’t be afraid to change it up.

Digital Calendar math

Calendar math is easy to incorporate into your daily routine with both a print and a digital option.

Calendar math doesn’t have to take up a bulletin board or a prime spot in your classroom. If you don’t have the space to dedicate an entire bulletin board to calendar math, a great option is to use a digital version!

Projecting to your whiteboard or interactive smart board can save you space and also be a fun way for your students to complete their morning calendar work.

Your students will love dragging and dropping the calendar features into place in order to review all the same math skills.

calendar math all-in-one

Be sure to check out all of the print and digital calendar math resources in the Fun Times In First TPT store. I’m sure you and your students will love incorporating calendar math into your daily routine as much as my students and I did.

Save these calendar math ideas

Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly come back when you need ideas for calendar math activities throughout the year!


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