Calendar Books are becoming more popular these days. I have to agree that the calendar notebooks can be a powerful tool for increasing accountability to pay attention, and to review lots of concepts daily. A Calendar Book generally is a little binder for each child with a copy of the monthly calendar in it for them to fill in daily, one number at a time. You can add a blank 1-10o chart that they also fill in one number at a time as you count the days that you have been in school. I originally learned about the idea from the I Teach K Conference in Las Vegas last summer, in 2007, at a session by Shari Sloan. It sounded like a great idea, so I decided to try it. I took my masters from Shari Sloan’s website. She has a lot of prepared masters that you can download for your calendar book. There are lots of things you can add into it as the year goes by, such as an Odds and Evens chart, a Write the Date chart, a Tally Chart so they can practice counting by 5's, etc. I wound up making my own after a while so that I could tweak them to suit myself and add some cute clip art. Here are some things that I did with my class that made the calendar book work for me. I love to include language arts activities during our opening calendar activities, so I made up a few to go in our book.
One thing I added was a sheet called "Word Family of the Day" in which they added one word per day from whatever word family we were working on, like -at words or -an words. After they wrote it in, everyone would touch and point to all of the words, and read them together. Then I added another one called, "Sight Word of the Day," in which they added one new sight word each day. We didn't do these things until the last three months of the year, though. Otherwise, we would have been up to more than 150 words, and that is WAY too much! I also learned to number the boxes on the page, and set up the page so that it matched my concept board (a calendar board with some other concepts thrown in on the same wall right next to it). That way, if someone was absent, we could easily catch up by filling in all of the rows of word up to a certain word. I would put a sticky note under the last word to be written. It was only one a day, unless they were absent. Just make it so that the sheet and the board match exactly, and you'll have no problem. We also added a sheet for problem solving and called it the "Word Problem of the Day". I made up a math problem just out of my head, and they were to draw a picture and write the equation. Then they had to say whether or not they used addition or subtraction. We sometimes used a spinner or dice to choose the numbers for our problem.
Another thing I added was a Zoo-Animal Probability Graph that I already was using on the wall. There is a picture below. The chart on the wall was similar but made with stickers, and it was laminated. I put one of each animal in a bag, and the helper of the day got to pick one animal out without looking. We filled in a square for each animal that got pulled out of the bag. We returned the animal to the bag each day, so it was a lesson in the probability of how often something would get chosen, given an equal chance for each one every day. We used a dry erase marker to fill in the graph on the wall so that I could erase it and use the same one next year. I think that next year, I will add an estimation sheet, and let them write their guess in a designated box on a paper that I will create. Then we will count the objects and write the real quantity in a designated spot.
My kids worked on the floor because our tables are around the outsides of the room. But I made it work by putting a zippered pouch in each binder with crayons, a pencil, and an eraser. The kids had their crayons in a baggie, not in the crayola boxes that they come in. It was too hard for them to get the crayons back in the boxes. I didn't let them keep these binders or pouches at the end of the year, so I will be using them again. Since I never sent them home, they were still in pretty good condition.
Shari Sloan is very clever about the way she has her calendar masters organized. I really liked the way she gives the option of having the numbers on the calendar be dotted for tracing, or blank with no number cues written in. The boxes on the calendar that would never be used at all are blacked out, so the kids can't put numbers in boxes that belonged to other months. I think that she recommends that Kindergartners just use the trasable pages for the first two months, and then you switch to the blank ones. Two of my special needs kids never graduated to the blank ones, but no one seemed to notice the difference. I think that is actually a pretty good way to work around learning needs and still do it whole group. Another thing that helped a lot was filling it in in small groups the first time we did it. I showed them and modeled it whole group, and then we tried it in small groups to make sure that everyone got it. Once most of them understood what was expected, I had some of my higher, more nurturing girls give assistance to my lower ones when we did it whole group. I think that helping their lower achieving peers was a really great thing for them, too! I made sure that they understood that they were not to do it FOR their classmate, but to just point out the right spot and remind them of what should go there, and to allow that child to copy theirs, if necessary. It worked!
I really liked the Calendar book, and the kids liked it too.