Daily Calendars

This calendar is an expansion of the Anticipation Calendar. It requires 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 “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 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).

daily calendar with expansion and tactile symbols
This is an example of a weekly calendar with tactile symbols.

Daily Calendars

    • Provides a timepiece for kids who are able to conceptualize time beyond the “Now”.
    • Helps students to anticipate what will happen next.
    • Helps put a label on the present event.
    • Helps put a label on past events.
    • Helps put a label on future events – up to a whole day’s list of events.

Characteristics of the Daily Calendar

    • This calendar is a schedule of events that will happen during the day.
    • Follows left to right sequence.
    • Upcoming events are previewed.
    • When events are finished they should be marked as such to show passage of time.
    • 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 chunks should be a little larger than the student’s hand, so the borders of the chunks can easily be located. 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”).
    • 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.

You could think of it like our daily planner or schedule. All kids need one, even if they’re at the anticipation level.  We as teachers should 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
daily calendar with expansion and tactile symbols
A daily calendar with tactile symbols and real objects

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”:

    • 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 Example: Chris with Jarvis, a student who is deafblind


Daily Calendar: Matt Draws with 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