Using Calendars to Expand Concepts

Calendars provide a static reference to a topic and create a framework to use in expanding concepts around that topic. For example, once you understand how to participate in an activity routine, you can begin to talk about WHO you do the activity with, WHERE you go to do the activity, WHAT HAPPENS during and after the activity, and other ideas. Maybe something went wrong or something surprising occurred during the activity. These are things that are interesting to talk about and provide opportunities to systematically focus on concept development.

We typically use expansion devices within the calendar routine to be able to help the child organize the particulars of the event and to provide a static reference to what will take place. Expansion strips or devices take on many different styles depending on the student’s forms of communication and the teacher’s creativity.

Benefits of Adding Expansion to Calendars

There are a number of benefits to using expansion devices with calendars when the child becomes ready. These include:

    • Increases opportunities for social interaction by introducing the “with-who”, “do-what”, “go-where”. In calendar conversations we are learning other people’s names and the characteristics associated with that person.
    • Introduces sentence building and word combining through action words and attributes. Again – “do what”, “with-who” and, “go-where”… “Go to gym class, with coach, and play basketball”.
Calendar with expansion strips using text and photos.
Calendar with expansion strips using text and photos.

This is an example of the calendar being used as a framework on which to hang larger concepts, add detail to conversation, and expand on interaction. This student is using pictures and has events expanded into “who, what, and where” categories. This “wh-expansion” adds detail to conversation and helps to teach sentence building.

Video Using the Calendar to Expand Concepts

Here you see a video of Jarvis and his teacher using an expanded calendar. They are having a discussion about their upcoming trip to the drum store. Notice how each activity for the day has been expanded to include “With who”, “Do what, and “Go where”. In this instance, going with “Matt”, in the “van” to “explore” the “drum store”. This helps to create new topics for conversation, increase vocabulary, and provide additional information.