Knowing Your Way Around Time

the-yearIt is a tricky for little children to understand the idea that the year rotates around, and starts again with a new numbered year. My “year chart” can help. Print it off and post it on your schoolroom wall, and go over it often with your 4-8 year olds. Asking them questions and talking about the months of the year will help them practice and gain understanding of the passage of time. Put the birthdays of each family member in your year, too, as that is a big event for young ones. And any recurring annual events.

I teach that the year begins at the top of the chart with the division line between December and January. Then it advances one year forward in number (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 . . . ) every time we pass that mark again, like a spiraling circle. A slinky toy or other coil or spring makes a good hands-on object lesson to help them see how each circle (year) connects to the next.

I also point out that the seasons divide the circle evenly. December, January, February are the 3 months that make winter; March, April and May are the spring months; June, July, August are summertime months and September, October and November make up the autumn season.

Here are some of the kinds of questions that I ask:
*What month is your birthday in? Point to it.
*When do we go swimming? (summer)
*What month do the leaves begin to turn red? (September)
*How many months are there in spring? Name them (March, April, May)
*In what month do we send valentines? (February)
*How many months are there in the year? Count them. (12)
*What month are we in now? (November)
image*How many more months until Christmas? (one)

Singing the “Months of the Year” song (found in Musical Notebooks)  as you point to each month’s name and picture helps a lot. This is basically the names of the months put to music.

A great trick for older children who have mastered the names of the months is to hold their fists side-by-side and say the names of the months as they touch the knuckle bones, or the “valleys” between the knuckles. The “knuckle months” have 31 days. As an adult, I still use this trick to figure out how many days in a month.

Thirty days hath September,

April, June, and November;

Thirty-one the others date,

Except in February, twenty-eight;

But in leap year we assign

February, twenty-nine.


Children can catch on quickly with this visual explanation of the year. It makes a child feel capable and smart to know where he is in time!


May I recommend:

Kids’ Gardening

Imagination Magnets

Fabric Calendar Pocket Chart

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