Last week, I posted a question on Instagram: “If you are a K-5 teacher, do you teach Calendar Math in your classroom?” I was surprised to see that only about 35% of teachers responded with a yes.
So then I asked another one: “If you don’t teach Calendar Math in your classroom, why not?” Can you guess what the top three responses were?
“My students are too old for Calendar.”
“I don’t have time to teach it.”
“I don’t know how to teach Calendar Math.”
I have taught Calendar Math in my third-grade classroom for the past ten years and I am convinced that it plays a major role in creating a community of learners, encouraging students to become leaders, and raising standardized test scores. Sound good? Keep reading.
Early on in my teaching career, I had a wonderful mentor. She told me that, if done correctly, Calendar Math can replace your entire math curriculum. Read that again: Calendar Math can replace your entire math curriculum. Honestly, I thought she was crazy.
After a few weeks of teaching a solid Calendar Math program, I got it. I understood how the spiral review of Common Core math skills was sticking with the kids in a way that our curriculum was missing the mark. Instead of just a few lessons on rounding, we practice it daily. Students who need a refresher of place value concepts or counting coins get the opportunity to revisit them. Previewing those lessons that often get rushed through at the end of the year can happen at any time, giving the students background knowledge for when they reach that point in their textbook.
Ok, ok…I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me show you what Calendar Math looks like in my classroom.
What does Calendar Math look like in a classroom?
I use an interactive whiteboard version of Calendar Math that I created during my very first year of teaching. I didn’t have enough room to have an entire bulletin board dedicated to Calendar Math so this was the perfect solution! I have updated it throughout the years as standards changed but the format has stayed the same. My favorite time to teach Calendar Math is first thing in the morning, however, I have also taught it at various points throughout the day as my schedule permitted.
The whole class comes up to the carpet with whiteboards, markers, and erasers. During the first month of school, I lead Calendar Math. After that, my student helper (or sometimes I make “Calendar Helper” a classroom job) is the one running the show. Sometimes we begin by chatting about our weekends or our schedule for the day. When we are ready to start, the class works through the interactive slides. The Calendar Helper does the work on the interactive whiteboard while the rest of the class is doing the work on their whiteboards. I see myself as the moderator, prompting the Calendar Helper and posing questions to the class. The students hold up their whiteboards to show their work and the helper checks by giving a thumbs up. Everyone is engaged, everyone is working.
What do the students do during Calendar Math time?
They predict, draw, discuss, write, spell, add, subtract, multiply, divide, round, graph, measure, count money, make change, and tell time.
Equally as important, they listen to one another, view each other as leaders, and have actual conversations about math. It’s a beautiful thing.
How much time does this take?
That is totally up to you. I usually plan for 20-30 minutes every day. On those days where we are rushed and have a lot to do, this may end up being only 10
minutes. On days where we are really into it and exploring new concepts, Calendar may last 45 minutes. I love how I can pick and choose which slides I want to do – it makes it very flexible and easy to adapt to my classroom schedule.
There may even be days where we don’t do Calendar Math at all. That just means that we do the work the following day…although the kids usually don’t let me forget that we need to do our Calendar Time! I have even had students ask me if they can do it during recess – no joke.
Aren’t my students too old for Calendar Math?
Simple answer? No, they’re not. I have never met a student who didn’t enjoy participating in a fun routine with the class. I think that a lot of people have the perception that Calendar Math is just telling the date and making a pattern. It’s so much more than that!
What skills do the students practice during Calendar Math?
I can’t speak to every Calendar Math program out there, but I can tell you what I do in my classroom.
• Calendars – each month has a different pattern to practice math skills
• Today’s Date – writing the date, using commas and capital letters
• Counting Tape – even/odd numbers, multiples
• Coin Counter – showing values in different ways, counting on
• Daily Depositor – adding money, place value, making trades
• Shopping – real-life practice with subtraction, counting on, making change
• Weather Report – bar graph, problem-solving
• Fact Families – addition/subtraction and multiplication/division related facts
• Place Value – standard, place value block, word, and expanded form
• Rounding – round to the nearest ten and hundred
• Telling Time – analog and digital clock, AM/PM
• Elapsed Time – calculating time passed
• Multiplication – fact fluency, arrays, equal groups
• Fractions – equal parts, naming fractions, greater/less than
• Inequalities – place value, greater/less than, equal to
• Length – using a ruler to the nearest 1/4, ½, 1 inch, estimating length
• Measurement: Area & Perimeter – measuring units and sq. units
I definitely do NOT do every skill every day. We usually complete the Calendar, Today’s Date, Counting Tape, Coin Counter, Daily Depositor, and Rounding. Then, depending on how much time is left, we pick one or two other skills. I usually choose a slide to reinforce what we are currently doing in math class or to review something that we have finished.
Ready to try Calendar Math?
I hope that I have convinced you to give Calendar Math a whirl in your own classroom! I have seen huge benefits from incorporating this simple routine into my schedule.
There are lots of Calendar Math options out there – just do a quick search on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers! Of course, I am partial to my own version. You can learn more about it below!
Whatever you decide to use, I hope that both you and your students love Calendar Math!
Let me know in the comments how YOU use Calendar Math in your classroom!