For Lydia, the past tense is encompassed by one broad category: “last year.”
Sometimes, this is a legitimate distinction: for example, “I turned two last year!” Sometimes, it isn’t: she might say, “We went to breakfast last year,” when we all know that she means we went to breakfast this morning.
Certain things that must be learned I take for granted, because I feel now as though I have always known them, and it isn’t until my pint-sized shadow announces that “a bird flew by the window last year” that it hits me: Lydia doesn’t know the shape of the calendar.
She’s only beginning to understand – much to her disappointment – that she’ll never be a baby again, and that she will always be older than Sarah. When I tell her that her birthday is on May 11th, that’s a simple fact, unattached to the understanding that those words function like an address. They tell us where her birthday fits into the year.
As lovely as it must be to have little concept of time, I came up with this idea for teaching her about the flow of months and years and seasons.
The idea is simple: every morning, we put a button into the jar. At the end of the month, we empty it out, count the buttons and put next month’s name on the front of the jar. We begin again.
The construction is simple as well, and you can tune it to your family’s needs. I wrote the month names out in letters large enough for Lydia to read and, as an afterthought, numbered each month, but you could use different colored paper for each season if you want to (by the time I thought to do that, it was too late.)
Jar of Days
You will need:
- blank mailing labels
- card stock
- one ribbon
- hole punch
- a pen
- a Mason jar (I used a quart-sized jar)
- 31 small objects. We’re using buttons for this month, but dried pasta or beans would work, too, as would large beads, rocks, or origami boxes (if you happened to go on a memorable origami binge a few years ago, and still find yourself with a surplus of boxes). You could also number some squares of cardstock and reuse those each month. Lastly, I know I don’t need to say this, but I will: don’t let your child play with these unsupervised if you use something small enough to be a choking hazard.
Now, this next part is really easy. Ready? Write “May” and/or the number 5 on a mailing label. Stick it to the card stock and trim card stock to your desired size.
Punch holes on either size of the mailing label and thread ribbon through the holes. Tie label to a jar and drop some stuff in it!
Repeat for remaining months, and stash those in an envelope for later.
[This post is a part of Works for Me Wednesday]