I receive a lot of questions from new elementary teachers looking for classroom calendar ideas. They ask about what to include in their calendar area, what resources they should scoop up, what to consider when selecting a location in their classroom for their calendar time, and much more. It can feel overwhelming to figure out where to start when you first get your classroom. As a result, I decided to write this blog post to guide 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers step-by-step towards achieving a fully optimized classroom calendar area. This post is packed with tips, ideas, and recommendations to support you in creating the classroom of your dreams. Let’s dive right into these classroom calendar ideas!
Why is a Classroom Calendar Important?
A classroom calendar is an important tool in elementary classrooms. All first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms should not only have a calendar posted in their classrooms, but be using it regularly. I know some teachers may have visions of “calendar time” being strictly a primary experience, but upper elementary can benefit from it too. Lower elementary students may answer questions like, “What is the date today?” and “What will the date be tomorrow?” Upper elementary students, on the other hand, may answer questions like, “Juan’s birthday is in 2 weeks and 6 days. What is the date of his birthday?” Calendar concepts often come up on standardized tests, but are not necessarily part of your school’s curriculum.
How to Create a Classroom Calendar in 10 Easy Steps
Below are 10 easy ideas for how to set up a classroom calendar.
1. Identify What You Want on Your Calendar Wall
Make a list of components you want to include on your calendar wall. This list could include things like a calendar, the number of days in school, the date written out, weather, question of the day, etc.
2. Pick a Location for Your Calendar Wall
Pick a spot in your classroom that will be your calendar area. Ideally, it should be accessible from your whole class meeting area so that you can use it as a daily teaching tool. In addition, consider how you will need it to be visible and accessible from the spots where your students will be working in the classroom and will need to access parts of it (like a model of the date written). For example, because my students access the calendar when working on their number of the day activities as well as when using the calendar task cards during our daily math workshop with guided math groups I needed to keep it in a spot that was visible from all around the room.
3. Measure Your Space
Use a tape measure to measure the wall space you will designate for your calendar area.
4. Create a Sketch of Your Calendar Wall
Sketch your dream calendar wall on a piece of paper.
5. Choose Materials
The fifth on this list of classroom calendar ideas is to choose materials. Decide if you are going to purchase a classroom calendar pocket chart or poster board. Read the pros and cons of both below to help you decide which one is best for you.
The Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Classroom Calendar Pocket Chart
For a few years, I had my calendar in one of those pocket charts that are specifically designed with 7 rows to hold calendar pieces. Here are the pros and cons I found:
- It saves you time: All you need to do is hit the “add to cart” button and check out. After it is delivered to you, it is super quick to assemble.
- It can last you several years: It is often pretty sturdy and can last a long time if you take good care of them.
- It is easy to hang: It is super easy to hang on cork bulletin boards using push pins and white boards using magnets.
- It’s expensive: They can cost upwards of $20-$30 for a basic one.
- There’s no place to write the date: It does not include a place to write the date and if you are like me and require your students to date everything, it is really important to display a model.
- It can get worn down over time: The pockets can tear or stretch out over time, especially when you have students changing out the cards each month.
The Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Classroom Calendar Poster Board
After a few years of having the calendar pocket chart, I ditched it and bought a poster board calendar instead. Here are the pros and cons I found:
- It’s a cheap solution: You can find the poster board for as cheap as $3 or $4.
- It is easy to hang: It is light, so you can use staples, tape, or small magnets to get it to stick to your wall.
- It is customizable: You can add ribbon, washi tape, and colorful tissue paper to have it match your classroom theme or color scheme. You can find so many ways to tie in themes ranging from black and white to cactus. It’s amazing!
- It requires more time: It depends on how much you customize it. It can take as much or as little time as you let it.
- This option may need to be replaced after a few years: Consider laminating it if it isn’t already to help it last longer. Over time it may bend or rip.
- It often does not come with everything you need: You may need to scoop up some number and month cards. You can find ones that fit your classroom theme or color scheme.
Once you have selected the materials you are going to use, head on down to the next item on the list of classroom calendar ideas to consider.
6. Purchase Materials
The sixth on this list of classroom calendar ideas is to purchase the materials you need. If you don’t already have them, you’ll need to purchase a calendar pocket chart or poster board, washi tape, stapler, donut magnets, tissue paper, bulletin board paper, etc. Be sure to consider funding options: Donors Choose, school’s math budget, personal budget, etc.
7. Print Resources
Print all of the resources you purchased and gather all the materials you purchased and need. Don’t forget to grab things like staplers, tape, and scissors that you need so you can complete the project uninterrupted.
8. Hang the Bulletin Board Background
The eighth on this list of classroom calendar ideas is to hang the backdrop of the calendar area. You could use bulletin board paper, a bed sheet, or a shower curtain. You’ll also want to use a border to define the space.
9. Post All of the Components from your Dream Calendar Sketch
If your calendar wall is magnetic, consider using donut magnets. One of my classroom walls was a retractable wall that allegedly has the ability to open up to the neighboring classroom to create one giant space, but has always been treated as a permanent. It’s magnetic and for a few years I had my calendar on that wall and used number cutouts with donut magnets hot glued onto the back. This made changing them each month super easy.
If your calendar wall is a cork board, consider using these handy little clips to hang the numbers on your board. They are perfect for displaying paper and because they are attached with a squishy adhesive of sorts the clips can be repositioned, removed, or reused. Attach one clip to each day.
10. Add Finishing Touches
The last idea on this list of classroom calendar ideas is to add the finishing touches. Take a step back and look at your calendar wall as a whole. Add finishing touches as needed. For example, to spruce it up I used party streamers to create ruffles around the perimeter. I actually sat with some of my students during a rainy indoor recess and they made the ruffles for me by scrunching up the streamers and stapling them at the bottom to hold the ruffle together. I then stapled them to the calendar and attached ribbon to hide the staples and give it another pop of color to match my classroom color scheme.
In closing, we hope you found these classroom calendar ideas helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts: