What is a linear calendar and what purpose does it serve?

For children in the first plane of development, Montessori emphasizes concrete, hands-on learning to make abstract concepts easier to understand as they grow older. A linear calendar is one way to help make the passage of time more concrete for children. Since it visually displays the entire year in one continuous line, children are able to count down to when special events, holidays, and birthdays are occurring. At first, “Woah! That’s a really long time away! See, it’s all the way down there!” and then later on more specific observations will be made: “In 41 days it’ll be Christmas! See!” Or, “Look, there’s only 2 more days until the weekend!” Once hung on the wall, it makes a dramatic visual statement that really draws attention to how long a year is and then once the year is over calls attention to the cyclical nature of years in general. It can also help make clear the divisions within one complete year: 4 seasons, 12 months, and 52 weeks.

Click HERE for the 2021 linear calendars.

free printable 2018 linear calendar

When we walked through our home for the first time, I immediately knew I’d want to display a linear calendar along this hallway. It’s located outside both the girls’ bedroom and the schoolroom.

where to place a linear calendar

Plus, it has this cute little alcove that’ll be perfect for seasonal displays.

Since it’s already October I decided we’d only display the remaining months this year and then start the new year with the full calendar. It should run the length of the entire hallway.

So how does it work?

My oldest daughter uses a simple clothespin to keep track of the date, and we labeled upcoming birthdays with small gold star stickers — alluding to how Montessorians celebrate birthdays of course!

You could easily mark other important dates or holidays with stickers or post-it tabs.

If you’d like to try a linear calendar in your home I’ve made the remaining months for 2018 available as a free download. Just click below! The free 3-month 2018 linear calendar includes the moon phases, and the weekend days are differentiated from the weekdays.

download free 2018 linear calendar here

Since my husband works a rotating shift our “weekends” are always in flux, so we are simply using the calendar without the weekend days differentiated. But if he worked a regular 9-to-5 or the girls went to school I think having the weekends visibly different would be beneficial, so that’s the version available for download. If you’re interested in the other, by all means simply send me a message and I’ll post it as well.

So, now that you have your linear calendar, here are 5 really fun ideas to incorporate alongside it.

  1. Display seasonal nature items on a nearby shelf or table. Encourage children to always be on the lookout for new items to add to their collection during nature walks.
  2. Mark the lunar phases on the calendar. Celebrate the full moon with a special nighttime nature walk. Take advantage of the new moon by visiting a local observatory or setting up your own telescope to gaze at the stars.
  3. Create a seasonal family bucket list each year. Mark the equinoxes and solstices on the calendar as a reminder to sit down and discuss 5-10 things your family would like to do each season.
  4. Generate a seasonal meal plan. Research what foods are in season and brainstorm 12-15 meal ideas that can be easily rotated throughout the season. Display the options nearby and allow children to plan the weekly menu if they desire.
  5. Create a family birthday book. Gather photographs of a child’s immediate family members and arrange them in chronological order, beginning with who has a birthday in January and ending with those in December. Mark your calendar with a simple birthday indication. Keep the book accessible nearby so children can determine whose birthday is upcoming next and make plans to honor that person’s special day. I think creating a classroom birthday book would be wonderful, too.

View the 2020 version of the Montessori-friendly linear calendar here.

Do you use a linear calendar with your children? What other fun ideas have your incorporated alongside it? Please share in the comments below.

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6 Comments

  1. Throughout this challenging year, moving our clothespin to mark the next day on the 2020 linear calendar has been a daily practice for us after completing school lessons while we’re dating a daily kindergarten journal. We hope and pray that you’ll offer a 2021 linear calendar soon! It was such a wonderful Christmas present last year under the tree for our then 5 year old son. This would be so nice to be able to gift again now that he’s 6 years old. We love the moon phases and the clear fonts that really allow for support of his reading progress and lunar understanding. It’s one of our favorite pieces in our home. Please please bring it back for 2021! Wishing you and your family a healthy and happy holiday season and 2021!

    1. Hi Angela, thank you so much for your kind words about the linear calendar! The 2021 calendars will be available soon. I hope to have them posted this weekend; if not they’ll definitely be available next week. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season as well!

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