One of the aspects that preschool and kindergarten age Montessori teachers find themselves trying to express to their kids is the passage of time. From a philosophical perspective, time is a human construct but it’s a necessary part of daily life both for dealing with our society’s obsession with punctuality and for recognizing seasonal changes. There are a few things that teachers can do for small children to get this idea across:
1. Have a days of the week song. There is one you can sing to the theme from the Addam’s Family.
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday
There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday
And then there’s Saturday
Days of the week (snap snap) Days of the week (snap snap)
Days of the week, Days of the week, days of the week (snap snap)
There’s also one sung to the tune from My Darlin’ Clementine
Usually you sing one of these songs with either clapping or yelling for the day you’re currently on. Then on your calandar you should say something to the effect of “Today is Tuesday, so yesterday was Monday and tomorrow must be Wednesday.” It’s also helpful to show the progression of the date within the month.
2. Clock works can be very helpful for distinguishing the passage of time, but even more so when you can associate certain times of day with a specific schedule the kids have regularly (every day is best). So if every day at school, your classroom has recess at 11:30, has lunch at noon or has work time at 10:10 after circle, the children start recognizing the different times as significant, and when the progression is always the same, they see the schedule and eventually the clock and understand what the significance is.
3. Seasonal change is marked by certain things you can observe out the window, but frequently if something out of character with your region happens, like getting rain in January in New England or having 80 degree weather during November in the West, it can confuse very little kids about what the seasons really are. It can help for teachers to have a paper tree on the wall that has buds in spring, green leaves in summer, colored leaves in fall and snow on it during the winter. I have a town on the wall that we decorate with snowmen and lights during the holidays and we make paper people who go swimming during the summer. However you decide to show seasonal changes, it should be something consistent that the children help making the decorations. If you laminate the pieces of your tree, it will last much longer and be much more resilient to 3-year-olds who want to touch it incessantly with messy hands.