Like many other homeschooling families and classrooms worldwide, we used the calendar as part of our early learning activities. Calendars are the best way to learn the name of the months and days of the week. Counting down to holidays and birthdays were some of our earliest math lessons. “Morning Calendar Time” was often the highlight of our homeschooling day. When we started calendar learning with our second child, we added a few things for our oldest, such as the month’s name origin, gemstone, and prominent constellations. And, this type of calendar learning continued on through the preschool years of children three, four, and five. Cross curricular and multi- level unit studies of seasons and holidays were extensions from that “Morning Calendar Time” and were something we all looked forward to as we would break from our regular learning.
Then one August morning, Joshua (child #4) was rather distraught about the lack of a family birthday or holiday being on our calendar. Our local homeschool support group did not have a party or field trip scheduled for August either. He was so disappointed. There was nothing “special” to look forward to. His unhappiness was contagious.
At that time, the older children were working on a study of the Middle Ages so we began adding the birthdates of the people we were learning about to the calendar. Then one day, we stumbled upon a food calendar so we added food days to our calendar (and often to our shopping list and menu) and nutrition studies to our schooling.
In September of the next year, we learned that there was a “Talk Like a Pirate Day”! Of course we added that to our calendar and lesson plans. Soon we were discovering odd and unusual holidays for every month. No longer was Joshua going to be sad during morning calendar time because there weren’t special days. In fact, we had collected so many special days, the wall calendar didn’t have enough room for us to accommodate them all! Thus, a Special Days list was started!
The following year we were focusing our studies on US History. We added presidents, explorers, and patriots birthdays and statehood anniversaries to our list. We also included the opening and dedication dates of state parks and monuments. War related dates were put on the list as well. The following year as we were learning about world cultures and religions, we were able to add their holidays to our special days collection.
A friend, knowing our building interest of calendar studies, gifted us with an educational activity book that was based off of authors, artists, and composer birthdays. The book also listed the dates for invention patents and historical events. Yes, you guessed it! Many of those dates were put on our list!
It was never my intention to turn our Morning Calendar time into a full curriculum, but that is what happened. Every month offers so many holidays, famous persons birthdays, foods, statehood anniversaries, historic and scientific anniversaries, foreign nations heritages observances, health related observances, wildlife and conservation awareness days, arts, music, and physical activities that we’ve been able to learn more than enough to cover nearly all of our core subjects and elective studies! Some days we’re even able to incorporate a math lesson with the special day!
This upcoming school year will be our 4th year of having nearly all of our learning coming from the calendar! We are not even close to exhausting the educational possibilities based on the monthly Special Days lists. And, we are still making it longer! Starting July, 2017, the updated Special Days lists will included foreign country Independence Days and National Days.
The current month’s Special Days list and resource collections are always accessible from the right side bar of my blog page. Other months can be found by an archive search or search bar (also in the right margin). The lists are updated often.
Along with my friend, Fran from Funschooling, I hostess a Facebook group based on fun learning activities for seasonal themes and special days. You can request to join Fun Days Homeschooling Co-op here. We’d love to have you!
“How do you make your Special Days lists your curriculum?” is a question I hear often. I’m planning a blog series, “Special Days and …” to answer that “how” question for each subject along with resources and ideas.
Special Days and Biographies – How to with resource list
Special Days and Geography – How to with resource list
Special Days and Science – How to with resource list
I have co-authored an Activity Companion for learning with August’s and September’s Special Days. An October Activity Companion is in the works!
How do you use the Special Days list in your classroom or homeschool? I’m looking forward to your responses! And, if you have questions, let me have those too!