Daily Calendars

This calendar is an expansion of the Anticipation Calendar. It requires the student to have the ability to expand time into the future past the “now”. With this calendar we may have the whole day’s events, or just a portion of the day. At first it may only include a “Now”- and then – “Next” (i.e. a two-slot calendar box). We are looking at larger chunks of time or bigger parts of the day and dividing it into smaller activities and putting labels on these activities.

This calendar starts to expand the concept of time further into the future, but also further into the past. With this calendar we will list the activities that will make up the student’s day (it’s the daily schedule).

A daily calendar using object and tactile symbols.
A daily calendar using objects and tactile symbols.
This is an example of a daily calendar made using a carpet strip and cords to divide the day into activity segments. The card with tactile symbols are expansion strips that give more information (who, what, where) related to the activity.
This is an example of a daily calendar made using a carpet strip and cords to divide the day into activity segments. The card with tactile symbols are expansion strips that give more information (who, what, where) related to the activity.

Prerequisite Skills for Using a Daily Calendars

    • Student is able to conceptualize time beyond the “Now”.
    • Student demonstrates at least occasionally the ability to anticipate what will happen next.
    • Student demonstrates knowledge of the concept of representation (e.g., spoon represents eating, diaper represents going to the bathroom).

Characteristics of the Daily Calendar

    • This calendar is a schedule of events that will happen during the day.
    • Helps put a label on the present, past and future events occurring during a larger portion of the day.
    • Follows left-to-right sequence. (Note: the ability to move left to right is an important pre-literacy skill as well.)
    • Upcoming events are previewed at the beginning of the day, thereby giving the child a better picture of the flow of events. When reviewed at the end of the day, they help the child reflect on the predictable and unexpected events of the day.
    • When events are finished they should be marked as such to show passage of time. This may be done using a finished container or covering the symbol is some way, such as with a cloth.
    • All daily calendars should have sturdy, clearly defined segments so the student can tell one chunk of time from another. At this level, each segment or chunk is an activity (e.g. lunch, gym, go home) rather than a specific length of time (e.g. 5 minutes).
    • Like the rest of society, the student also needs a timepiece that shows past, present and future.
    • The size of the whole calendar should be in proportion to the child. As a rule, the student should be able to easily feel the entire length of the calendar by placing her left hand on one end and her right hand on the other.
    • The calendar sections should be the correct size. The individual segments should be a little larger than the student’s hand, so the borders of the segments can easily be located tactually. A section this size usually provides enough room to place or retrieve objects or pictures easily.

How to Use the Daily Calendar 

    • Preview the daily calendar as your first activity in the morning. By previewing you are labeling the future (i.e. what you will be doing “today”).
    • Make sure to give the student opportunities to help schedule events in their calendar. At first they may need a good bit of support in placing the symbols in the order in which they will do them.
    • Start each activity by going to the calendar, getting the appropriate symbol, discussing that activity. By assigning each activity a symbol, you are putting a label on it; you are giving it a name. Go do the activity, and then bring the activity symbol back to the calendar and put it in the “finished box”. Repeat the process for every activity.
    • Review all of your activities at the end of the day.  All of your activity symbols should then be in the finished box, because they are now in the past.
    • Make sure to follow the lead of your student and provide them opportunities to comment about the activities. In other words, don’t do all the talking.
    • Make sure the calendar is located in such a way that the student can access the calendar and all activity symbols whenever he or she wishes. This may provide the student the opportunity to communicate interests at any point in time.

You could think of this type of calendar like our daily planner or schedule. As teachers, it is important to provide their schedule for them if they are unable to plan for themselves.

Here you can see combination daily and two-week calendar. Also, there is a combination of forms: real objects and tactile symbols.

daily calendar with expansion and tactile symbols
A daily calendar with picture symbols

Teaching the Concept of “Cancelled”

Since we now have the daily calendar divided into a sequence of activities, we can start to teach the concept of “cancelled”. Life is filled with plans that have to be changed. Learning a concept such as “cancelled” helps the child learn to cope with these changes. It allows you to talk about the activity and why it is cancelled. 

    • A couple of concrete examples are: using an “X” cut out of poster board and attaching it to a picture of the activity, or a person’s picture who cannot make it that day. As an alternative you can use a piece of black felt to cover the slot in the calendar of an activity that has been cancelled.
    • Be sure to say and sign “cancelled” when your student is at his calendar and viewing the activity that has been cancelled.

Video Examples                               

In the first example below, you will see a student and teacher using a daily calendar. Notice the use of tactile symbols and expansion strips. The expansion strips are used to expand Jarvis’ daily activities into “who”, “what/do”, and “where” language categories. Notice too how the teacher is using a combination of vocalizations, tactile sign, gesture, and tactile symbols to communicate. Signs are modeled co-actively from behind the student, while conversation is face-to-face. It is very important for these communication forms to be consistent between all the people in Jarvis’ life – school staff and family at home. Jarvis previews both his day (school) and his evening (dorm) schedules during this morning calendar conversation. The two calendars are differentiated by the evening being raised with small tiles (tactile markers) around the edge.

Daily Calendar Chris and Jarvis


Daily Calendar With Matt and Sarah

In the second example, TVI Matt Schultz explains how a daily calendar works with Sarah, a student who is deafblind.



Let Me Check My Calendar by Robbie Blaha