Real calendars are super useful!
In January, my kiddos were counting away and needing some more challenge. So, after we counted and found the date on the big velcro calendar, I had the kids help me find the same number on the real calendar. This was a great opportunity for them to use their visual scanning skills, their matching skills, and their number identification skills. Next, they had to help me decide which color X came next by saying the pattern out loud to figure out what color X we needed to draw in the box, Some of my little guys can draw an X, so if it happens to be their day to be the calendar helper, they can draw it in, but I hand-over-hand it with my kiddos that aren't ready for that yet. Another reason why I like using the real calendar? The pictures show clues about the season and month that we're currently in, so it gives us more to talk about during calendar time! We discuss animals we see, what people are wearing, what the landscape looks like, whether the picture was taken during the day or at night, what weather it depicts... even what is NOT in the picture. For January, I might ask the kids why the the girl isn't wearing a bathing suit or why there aren't any insects flying around.
By March, we were doing ABC patterns and everyone could draw an X!
April brought shapes instead of colors, because I wanted to be sure that my little guys understood that patterns aren't just about colors. Thus, a monochromatic color was used and we shifted to shapes, going back to the AB pattern just to keep things simple.
In May, we were discussing the number of sides of shapes, the number of corners, etc., so our pattern was an AB pattern made of squares and triangles. I drew a key at the top right so that I and my teacher aide could remember what we were doing, but the kids totally understood the concept without being told! Students were either able to draw the shape themselves OR they could tell me how to draw the shape using the correct number of sides and corners. The kids really enjoyed doing it this way, so I hope to get to this level much faster in future years. What I loved most about this page was the amount of discussion that this activity generated with the students. Also, I drew a simple picture on the page for a student who had a birthday in May and one for the last day of school. We call the last day "Bye-Bye Day" so that the kids can truly understand that the school year is over and they won't be back to my classroom :(