Kids, Montessori at Home, Montessori inspired Toys, Toys
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Circular Calendar, a Waldorf way for teaching the seasons, the months and the year {Grapat Toys}

Few months ago, we started a new routine in our house to help to give rhythm to our days. Every morning with #1 before the school run we set the date, we check the seasons, revise the months and days of the week. I was looking for a fabric calendar for months and we finally got our hand in one while we were in Holidays in France. This calendar is really well made and it is a lovely educative room/playroom decoration. We love it a lot.

But little by little,  I noticed that #1 was struggling a bit with the concept of year, months and seasons. We have talked about the solar system trying to help with the cycle concept. This is when I realised that our fabric calendar was not helping. I then thought that a circular one will be more helpful and realistic.

Why a circle? We usually think of the passing of time as linear, with one event following another in sequence by day, by month, by year. But placing events in a circular or wheel shape helps discover patterns and is more a natural approach.

Seeing the year in a circular flow helps in fact to make sense of how the time goes and the seasons and months follow each other in a meaningful way. In Waldorf education, keeping rhythm through the days is vital at home and in a school environment and as a Montessori mum of two ASD girls, rhythm and routines definitely set the tempo of our lives. We try to give as much markers as possible to our girls for them to identify what will be going next and trigger any anxiety. So the idea of a circular calendar was quite good and I felt silly not to have thought of it before. It also settles a child’s understanding that this rhythm continues through the year too. Children {ASD or not} respond well to knowing what comes next in the day, so to give them a rhythm, a routine and some marker points regarding the year and the seasons is equally important: they respond just as well to knowing what comes next throughout the year.

Last week I presented you Grapat Toys and since we have met this new brand, we are the lucky owners of the most amazing perpetual circular Waldorf inspired calendar*, to my opinion. This is how we received it.

Each coloured Nin® or peg doll figure represents a month of the year according to Waldorf teachings.  Along with the wooden cubes, the day of the month and the month of the year can be displayed.  This gives children a physical reference point that they can use to touch the day with and develop and understanding of the passing of time. This is a beautiful tactile piece that can also be used for play. I tried to find out what was the meaning behing the twelve dolls and it is a version of the Twelve Brothers Waldorf calendars. A wooden perpetual calendar that is based on the seasonal focus of the year.

It is in fact based on the story “The Twelve Months”, a folktale from Czechoslovakia. The 12 wooden Nins® represent the 12 Brothers which each of them represents a month of the year.

The Tale is lovely and you can have a read in my Blog and I have added some Montessori activities to do around the Fairy tale. It has worked wonders with #1 {5 years old} and using the calendar as a prop was a HUUUUGE hit!

Young children are sensory beings and they relate to the world through their senses: sight, touch, sound and so on and experiences, therefore learning the days of the week, the months and seasons using colours, wooden peg dolls and a story that they can touch, feel and remember resonates with younger children in a more gentle and intuitive way than using numbers or names to represent each day. And I should add it is definitely a great visual and educational tool.

To conclude, this set works wonderfully well for the 12 Brothers folktale that honours the natural cycle and it also works great for nature tables or as a Waldorf Calendar. The calendar use the colour ranges below based on the month of the seasonal solstice or equinox:

  • December, January, February: blue shades
  • March, April, May: green shades
  • June, July, August: red shades
  • September, October, November: purple shades

I love how clever the colours have been selected and how it is easy to relate them to the season. It is so obvious and it is great for children is the autism spectrum. My girl struggles a lot with too abstract concepts and giving something more real, helps so much.

Now, the calendar stands in our classroom on our shelf. We have decided to put it next to our Botany shelf surrounded by plants. It helps enormously to keep our family rhythm going throughout the days. #1 who is five loves to be reminded which day, which months and the season we are enjoying and which season is coming next. The girls love it and consult it often. They turn the dices every morning and select the right number at the start of each day. And we put on top the corresponding Month Nin. By time to time, we take it and dress the Nins and we read together the tale, making the story live with our Nins Show again and again.

You can purchase this Grapat Waldorf perpetual calendar at Babipur.

Note: *PR sample

5 Comments

  1. Jo Worrall says

    Lovely post. We have this calendar and it is beautiful, so many ways to use it too. The folk story is a wonderful accompaniment, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mrs Ted says

    I really enjoyed this post thanks for sharing. I taught in a school for ASD children for years and never considered the calendar for use there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and happy you liked the post. With my daughters, I noticed that any abstract concepts is integrated better and easily if I “show/demonstrate” it. This calendar is so helpful in our routine too. 🙂 The ASD pushes the boundaries and push me to think out of the box and not use traditional materials.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mrs Ted says

        The idea of circular time was what struck me! Anytime I read about quantum theory that’s the way it’s described but for some reason I always persisted with a rectangle or time line for our calendar. So glad you spotted to make the shift.

        Like

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