Calendars: More Than a Concept of Time

When we think about all of the ways we use a calendar, we probably consider its main function as a tool to mark time – although, one could argue that things like to do lists, and recipes are kinds of calendars too. In the context of time, we mainly think of calendars as a way to keep track of the future – important meetings and appointments, important dates – birthdays, anniversaries – things that are coming up that you need to keep track of so you don’t forget.

However, if we think about our calendars with regard to the past….

Timeline calendar on the wall: a 120-year calendar on red butcher paper that runs the length of a school hallway; a legend is at the calendar's head
Timeline calendar on the wall
Another way to teach time concepts is as a continuum – or, Timeline – with the present moment as our starting point. From here you can move forward (into the future), or back (into the past). The picture above shows a timeline calendar that was created by three students and their teacher, at TSBVI. As it moves backward, into the past, it illustrates things like their birthdates, their parents, and grandparents birthdates, important moments in history, life lines of interesting people, when important inventions where introduced, etc.[/caption]

We have a memory bank of our life’s history and we mark that history in a sequence of hours, days, or years. When we think of it as our life’s Rolodex, all of the memories on that Rolodex are linked to other memories, and in relation to the sequence in which they happened. This is what keeps us grounded in time. If we didn’t have a conceptual foundation of how to organize these events (i.e. a calendar) we would be kind of lost in space and time…

A Concept of Time:   We need a way to label, and keep track of past, present, and future, i.e. “yesterday”, “now”, “tomorrow”.

A Workable Timepiece:  We need a physical thing we can use to mark time with: a wrist watch, wall calendar, day planner, PDA, etc.

Communication Form:   A calendar provides a static communication system that can be referred back to (or forward to) over and over. Think of it as our student’s words on a page, a permanent marker.

*** Remember:  It is very important that we recognize the calendar, not only as a tool associated with time (a timepiece), but also as a literacy tool: a way to label things, actions, and people.

These events and/or things that we label enable our students to have topics for conversationWhen we label an event we are also labeling an event in that sequence of time; we’re putting cards in our kid’s rolodex. We are helping to establish Function, and giving a reason to communicate.