Calendar Time Binders – Teaching Standards Whole Group


Two years ago I decided to make a change to my calendar time. It was scary territory and I invited you along for the adventure. What prompted this change? It was about the same time that I started teaching the majority of my day in small groups.

I decided to integrate calendar binders for four main reasons.

  • So that my kinders will remain engaged
  • So that my kinders will participate at a new level
  • So that my “doer” kinders and my visual kinders will be able to draw on their strengths
  • So that I know I am doing my best to meet the needs of all my kinders and challenge them at the same time
calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group

I began slowly my first year, and didn’t start until February. Then I started in August my second year. I learned to just roll out the parts slowly, setting the ground rules along the way.

Setting the ground rules sounds a little bit like. “What will you be writing, while I’m writing?” “How will you sit with your binder?”

I’ve found that for me, that the “calendar routine” is an outdated way of teaching today’s kindergarten. {totally just my opinion} Doing the exact same thing everyday becomes unnecessary.

They grow, so should calendar time.

KindergartenWorks: calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group

Calendar time has now become my whole group math time. Students have a set of pages in their binders, matching the general level of students and our common core standards for the quarter.

Setting Up Binders

KindergartenWorks: calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group

I like to use a set of sturdy dividers so I can break up the sheets we place into the binders and it also helps with switching categories (like from decomposing to weather) for students. I also recommend using sheet protectors in place of laminating.

Calendar binders in kindergarten

The pages are in sheet protectors since they can use them daily with dry erase markers, make mistakes and they are easy to pass out/collect when we’ve outgrown them.

calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group

They can follow along with your matching calendar wall, or you can put your own teacher calendar binder under a document camera. I did it both ways! (I began before we had an ounce of technology in my classroom)

Hitting Standards

We do have a monthly calendar page that doesn’t go in a page protector. They color a pattern and fill in the date.

Students grow from watching me step by step to doing this portion of the calendar practically by themselves.

How to do calendar time the smart way

There comes a point when I’m just checking in asking students to explain their thinking and discussing strategies for figuring things out.

This is about as “calendar-ish” as the time we have our binders out gets for us.

calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group

Then we dive into practicing other math standards, focusing on number sense, composing/decomposing and operations.

We use ten frames to discuss numbers, pull a number from our hundreds chart (but start with 11-19 to match our standards) and compose/decompose those numbers by first adding quick dots to create the number using ten frames with a marker and then writing about the groups of tens and ones.

This is a daily activity that grows from making to composing/decomposing with words, pictures and equations. I’ve made at least 3 pages to work on this concept and grow through it.

calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group

We work on fluency for addition and subtraction, do word problem solving, handwriting, subitizing and having the materials all ready to go offers me variety in what I teach. I am able to give lots of time for students to show their thinking and also explain it to others.

Any day I can pick up number cards or dot cards and we can use them to practice our skills but in a fun new way.

calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group

With new life breathed into my “calendar” {ahem whole group math} time and having met my four goals better this is a classroom activity that’s going to stay on my agenda.

Forget doing calendar the old school way

Calendar Binder Time Tips

Here are my top tips that have made doing calendar binders in kindergarten successful. They are simple, but took me a little while to figure out.

  1. Kinders need to have a dry erase marker and sock {eraser} in their pencil boxes to bring to the floor.
  2. Space to spread out makes this time more relaxed.
  3. Edifying strategies and thought process helps others try similar strategies.
  4. Don’t be afraid to change it up!
  5. Sheet protectors are way easier and hold up longer than lamination. Also easier to replace.

calendar time binders - teaching common core standards whole group
Get the Calendar Binder Math Pages

It was brave new territory, but I’m glad I took the adventure! You won’t find me ever going back to teaching the calendar the old school way.

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  1. Hi – I have been contemplating this. I am curious, how much time do you spend at your “calendar” time? I am working on this – I tend to use this time non-traditionally as well.

  2. I really like the looks of this for my 1st graders to use each day to hit on the new CCS. I would be interested in purchasing an entire calendar packet for this next school year. I was thinking about maybe printing, laminating and binding these so they would last all year and we could use dry erase on the number pages.

  3. I love this! Do you have calendar months for the entire year? I purchased the Calendar materials from Teachers Notebook but would love to have the months for my kindergartners to fill in each day (for the 2012-13) school year! Thanks!

    1. Hi Carolyn,
      I have only created these for the second semester, and have updated most months (but not all) to 2013. The calendars may be completed this summer. Hopefully you’ll have them for next year. But, I think you may be braver than I! I’m not sure if I want to use them with kinders all year! Ha! Maybe they’d learn to write those numbers faster that way!

  4. I think this is a fantastic product! Thank you so very much! I am going to do this when school starts next fall. I am also going to start with April this coming week.

  5. I will be starting in my new venture in Kindergarten from Pre-K this fall. I have always wanted to this, but haven’t had the time to sit down and really think about how I wanted to do it. Since I will be starting fresh in the fall, I cannot wait to try it out! Thank you for sharing!!!

  6. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing your hard work! I love that it ties so nuch together and engages the children!

  7. Thanks for the calendar download. We’ve been doing binders for a few years now, but see the need to change it up to match the CCSS. Thanks so much!

  8. I tried math binders this year, and my kids and I grew tired of it. SO…. I took the stuff I really liked and converted everything into what I call SMART BOARD MATH TIME. This has all the ideas from calendar and binder time rolled into an interactive learning time. I do like your take on it. 🙂 Especially the 10 frame stuff. Best of luck! =)

    This is what I love about teaching and sharing. We can take a little of this, some of that and come up with what works for us.

  9. I have been using calendar binders for the first time this school year. The kids really enjoy having something of their own to work on during calendar time. I am excited to view these templates, except I am having trouble opening the file. It is saying the file is damaged.

  10. I love this! I have tried several different formats/ideas and haven’t stumbled on the just right fit management wise. I am anxious to give your templates a try!

    1. Management does play a big part. I am finding that I have to be okay with all of the paper, tool and ripping out of papers that comes with the management of binders. But knowing that comes with the territory has made it not a frustrating thing for the neat freak in me 😉

  11. How sad and behind am I on my blog stalking? Seriously!!!! Ok… let’s get down to business. I totally love this idea. It has been floating in my mind for a while. I think I will jump in the deep end too. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  12. love this! you should post it on teacher’s notebook as a full year pack to buy, i’d get it in an instant for next year already.

  13. I am so bummed! I can’t get these to open for some reason! (It says the file is damaged). It could be something with my computer – you know an updated needed or something. Anyway, these look awesome and I hope to get to use them or something like them if I can’t get them open!
    Spotlight on Kindergarten
    [email protected]

  14. I teach special ed kinders and I have been thinking of doing something like this to keep their attention engaged. They would need lots of hands on help but I think some of these pages would be really helpful. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. I get bored with calendar and like to change it. I do a lot of this, but not with each child having their own binder. This is a wonderful idea and thanks for your generosity in sharing. The only thing I would sugest is on the hundreds chart is to show the first line like this ( 01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09,10). Thanks again and I am looking forward to the rest of the months. Carolyn

    1. Thanks Carolyn, I have considered that! I have even questioned teaching the numbers 1-9 that way next year to help impress the concept of the groups of ten right from the start. It scares me since I’ve never taught them that way… but I figure its easier to learn to drop the zero later on. Have you ever taught numbers that way?

  16. This is exciting! I cant wait to add them to April’s Month!! I am very excited and also LOVE to add content to make the learning MORE meaningful for my K kiddos!!

    [email protected]

  17. This is amazing!!!!! I’ve been wanting to use my calendar time for math and couldn’t quite put it together!!!! THANK YOU!

  18. I love this! I just went to first grade this year and have been trying to figure out how to begin my adventure with calendar binders. I am hoping to find someone that has done what you have done for first grade. Have a fabulous Day.

  19. I started doing something similar with our Calendar Time, too. Each student is making their own personal calendar to take home at the end of the year (and hopefully will want to keep). We start off with a partially-filled in grid. At the beginning of the year, the students only had to fill in the month, year, and a few missing numbers. Now they fill in almost everything, and have to color in the pattern as well. At the beginning of the year we focused mainly on identifying different components of the calendar, number formation, and number identification. With more to fill in now, we hit a lot of skills including higher number formation, patterns, beginning the words with uppercase and writing the rest in lowercase, days of the week. Almost all of my students can fill in their calendars independently by now, since we’ve been working on the routine all year. After the calendar is filled in and colored, a major highlight for the students is adding star stickers to the special days, and sometimes we play a game while doing this. At the end of each month, each student gets to choose four photos that were taken of them throughout the month to decorate their calendar with, along with frames and cutouts based on different activities and holidays that occurred throughout the month. It’s been a great project so far!

  20. Thanks for sharing! I do a calendar binder but it’s refreshing to see a new slant on the page design!

  21. I am a second grade teacher, but I have a daughter in kindergarten. I’ve been sharing all these wonderful ideas with her teacher….since she is a little old school and just starting to jump into all these standards. Thank you so much for caring enough to share. [email protected]

  22. That calendar project looks amazing:) I would love to see the other months and I would be willing to pay for the others, so I can have it for the 2012-2013 year:)

  23. I’ve been itching to start calendar binders with my kinders and was thrilled to find your calendar binder files. I won’t actually start on the binders with the kids until next school year because I’ll need some time to put it all together! I’d love to see anything else you come up with:) Thank you so much for sharing these with us:)

    1. Sarah, I think I’m really glad that I didn’t start until this point in the school year. The timing seems to be right with having built a calendar routine, had enough practice to follow along on their own indiv. papers… think if I continue next year that I’ll most likely wait again until Jan/Feb. to begin!

  24. Love, love this idea! I can’t wait to use some of these components in the coming weeks! Please check out my blog for the award that I just shared with you. You rock!
    Teaching with Grace

  25. I keep flirting with this idea, too. I love you ideas, especially the making 10s and finding it on the 100 chart.

  26. Oh, I love this! I especially love the hundreds chart page. LOVE! Thank you for offering it up for free, too. I really appreciate that.

  27. I love this!!! I have been looking for a way to keep my kinders engaged during calendar time and this is it! Thanks so much and please post your other monthly calendars as you do them.

  28. I like the months of the years for the birthday. I also like the way we did the weather calendar. I am going to try this with my class when I do calendar. I think this will keep them engaged . Thanks for sharing. I love your blog and all of your ideas.

  29. This looks great! Thank you so much for sharing a way to make calendar time more interactive for the whole class.

  30. Wow- thanks for the freebie- you did a lot of hard work on this one! Can’t wait to see how my Kinders like it! Thanks for always inspiring me to keep it fresh and new 🙂

    Let’s Teach Something

  31. I have been trying to think of how to keep all my kiddos engaged as well!! This looks like an awesome way to do it…I am very excited to give it a try! Thanks for sharing!

  32. I have been doing “calendar notebooks” for years and love it! It gets the kids into the action and also makes them accountable for their own learning. You really do have to start slow and build on it or it’s too overwhelming! I use items from and hope to add some from yours as well! Thanks so much for sharing. Good luck!

  33. I was in a 1st grade class earlier this week that each had their own binders. Except the teacher has them do it at their desks and I did nothing! They did their hundreds chart, added the days in school, did tally marks, wrote the day in the calendar…it was amazing!

  34. WOW, I started doing this the very beginning of the year, after attending the K conference in Las Vegas!! I was SOOOO ready to go forward with this!! My Kindergarteners?…..Not so much!!!…They were CONSTANTLY flipping pages, never on the right page etc. I feel like maybe this is the time I should (shutter) try again? I don’t know, my toe is still DRY!! LOL!!

  35. I love this! My whole team uses an interactive calendar. We all laminated ours and then bound the pages together. I know it tooks our aides BUT we use them every single day and the kids really benefit a lot from them for sure! Yours is way cuter and I like parts of it better too, but this is definitely a great skill reinforcer!!

  36. Oh yes! Our calendar time needs to be more interactive and this is the perfect solution. I will definitely use this and my kindergartners will thank you!

  37. Leslie,
    I jumped into this same pool for the first time in the fall with my K/1 combination. BUT I drowned. (Insert very sad face.) I read all about other calendar binders that teachers had and created my own. But it drove me nuts having students flip to different pages in their binders and we seemed to be spending too much time getting on the right page. (I must confess I am easily driven nuts.) Then I created a new type of page that was based on that date so that each day the students would just work on one page. So on that page the students had to write the date, create equations using the date, write the date in tally marks, etc. We used that type of page for awhile, but I still felt like it was taking too much time.

    But now I am wondering if I just started too soon. Maybe I should look at my one page and see if it is doable now. You have inspired me!!!! Like always!!!!
    An Open Door

    1. Thanks Camille for your honest feedback! I have heard that some people wait until mid-year to start these, so I figured there was no harm in at least trying at this point. I am considering how much time it may take flipping pages, and am going to stay on top of watching that. Thanks for letting me know what to watch out for based on your experience!

  38. Our daily calendar work is the same thing over.and.over.and.over again. Bores the heck out of me, but my kiddos seem to like it! haha! Also, see if you can review a now!board…I’ve seen a few bloggers review it and it could work as your projector!

    1. You made me laugh! I used to have my kinders teach the calendar since they could do it verbatim! I loved this part of the day becuase I get so much out of watching them teach others. Okay, but then I changed to doing guided math… and I needed like 20 mins. of my day back. I may have just given it up again… we’ll see how fast I can move this train! I think I would love a new now!board… they sound super cool and just what I need!

    1. Thanks Alicia! I was just reading about the first grade composing/decomposing numbers and this runs into theirs, but some of my kinders are ready for it and I think that modeling different numbers in the tens place helps them really establish WHY on the numbers that they have to know! Thanks for sharing your feedback1

  39. Leslie!! I LOVE this!! This is perfect for Audrey:) They are beautiful, just like everything else you do!!

    1. Thanks Annie! I just realized that you might run out of sunny spaces! Man, and I just realized that 3/4 of the weather that I put in for mine…. is really rather crummy weather. Oh well – that’s Indiana weather! Hope they work great for Audrey!

    1. Thanks Jennifer – yes! It seems I am undertaking quite a bit of change and my kinders are handling it pretty well. With the new CCS, I’m really having to find new ways to challenge them once they have my “old ways” of doing things mastered!

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