Daily Counter

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This is one of 31 calendar-related activities I’m posting for my 31 Days writing challenge.
Click here to see the other activities I’ve posted!

A common component in Calendar Math curriculums in elementary school is a daily counter. A daily counter area on your calendar provides a visual that allows your child to see that as you add more dates to the calendar, the numbers get bigger, or “grow.” The size of numbers (greater than, less than) is important, and can sometimes be a difficult concept for young children to grasp. They know they would rather have 5 cookies than 1, but outside of examples like that they don’t always understand that 5 is greater than 1.

By having a daily counter on your calendar you are using physical objects to represent the number of days that have passed, helping them to build the foundational knowledge that as we count numbers higher, the quantity grows as well.

IMG_2366There are many ways to display a daily counter. The curriculum I used in my classroom had a few variations – post-it notes in a line that grew around the room, straws in pockets, coins, and tally marks. It’s up to you what you want to use, but I recommend something they can relate to, like a toy with many pieces (we are using counting bears this month, Legos next month), small bits of paper that they can tape up themselves, or even letting them make a daily dot on a sheet of paper with a dot marker.

The procedure is super simple: after adding the current date to your calendar, add another object/mark to your daily counter, then count the objects/marks together.

Example dialog:
“So we just put the number 11 up on the calendar today. Let’s add another bear to our line of bears so that we have 11 bears by the calendar, too! Okay, now that we added our new bear, let’s go back and count to be sure we have 11. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11. Yup, we have the right number! You are a super counter!”

When taught as part of a classroom curriculum, this component will usually continue on, day after day, adding a new object every day, even as the calendar rolls over into the new month. Doing it this way would allow you to go beyond the number of days in the month. For now, Julia and I will be stopping at the end of the month and starting over with number 1 the first day of the next month. 🙂

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