We use calendars within the majority of our therapy sessions. When they are little we work on them understanding the days of the week, months of the year, today, tomorrow, yesterday and more. You can find out more on how we teach these to our little ones in an upcoming blog “Teaching Temporal Concepts in a Fun Way” (keep a look at out it will be out soon)!
But for today’s blog we want to focus on how we use calendars for our older kids to focus on past events, theory of mind skills, perspective taking skills, social memory and more. Once again, you can complete this activity at home, in therapy and even at school.
The materials needed for this activity couldn’t be any more simple --- a calendar and a pencil.
We like to use the calendar templates on “Word” but you can use any type of small calendar. However, if you are feeling creative – GO FOR IT – and use pictures from your computer, clip art, glitter, markers, etc.
For some kids I start with a blank calendar:
For others I add in a few important things for their week such as: after school activities, birthdays, holidays, etc. For some kids I use pictures and words, while others I just use words.
At the beginning of the session, we pull out their calendar. First we discuss if there is anything else to add to their calendar. I guide them through this. It is important to help guide them through this activity you MUST know their after school activities, their school calendar, family information, friend information, and more. I guide them through this discussing things that are happening in my month that are similar such as: a friends/family birthday, special holiday events, church events, etc. If this doesn’t help them, then I use other supports that we have created such as: Friends Books/Files, Family Books, and more. If this doesn’t help them, then begin to use indirect statements/questions such as “Your mom said that someone’s birthday was this month but I don’t remember whose?”; ask direct questions; and/or give them the answer. We add this information to their calendar.
Next we discuss anything that was special that has happened since the last time I saw them: sleep overs, birthday parties, field day at school, play dates, going to the movies, etc. Again, I guide them through this just like above. It is also very helpful to have pictures from the week before – this helps them a lot. Some of my kids can think of a lot of things for each day. For others this is more difficult so I have to give them a number – “Let’s think of 1 thing you did on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. “. For some they can think of fun social things that they did with minimal to no help. For others this is more difficult and they come up with “ate dinner, woke up, etc”. For these kids I have the family’s text/email me a list of things that they did along with pictures. For these kids we work on that they can only use “literal” information if it is “social with another friend/family member”. For example they can’t say “went to dinner” but they can say “went to Mi Cocina because mom likes it”; they can’t say “woke up” but they can say “woke up at Jim’s house because I slept over”; they can’t say “went to Sunday school” but they can say “went to Sunday school and we all played a new game”.
Next we use the calendar and then information we added in to focus on a wide variety of skills that is specific to each child’s needs including: following directions, understanding more temporal concepts, theory of mind skills, perspective taking, conversational skills, and more.
Some of my kids are working on understanding specific temporal concepts such as “X days ago, X days from now, and more”. For these kids I also create a fun activity where they use their calendar to figure out the days of the week, events, holidays based on these concepts such as “What did you do 5 days after January 1?, “Where did you go 4 days after your mom’s birthday?”, “What special event will take place 3 days from today?”, etc.
Some kids are working on understanding others. These kids may have a Friends Book or a Family Book (don't miss out on our Friends and Family Book upcoming Blog.....keep checking out site....it's coming soon). We then use the information that we added to the calendar to add to the book. For example, if we added in someone’s birthday and it isn’t in the book then we add; if they had a play date with a friend we may add in the activities that they did that the friend like or what they talked about; if we know new foods that Dad likes; if we know new games that brother likes/doesn’t like; and more.
Some kids are working on conversation skills. We will then use their calendar along with other conversation tools to have conversations about them, about me, about past events, about future events and more (a new conversation blog is coming soon!).
We hope that you all enjoy this blog and that you all begin to use calendars more with your students/kids this fall!