Calendar of Firsts
The Calendar of Firsts is a record of natural history when it is first seen, such as the “first cardinal”, “first tadpole”, or “first fallen maple leaf”. Your record will show where and when you saw it, making it easier to know where and when you might see it again the following year. Each subsequent season, children will have something to look for when going out into the world –something they know about and something they can anticipate. Each year they can also add to their knowledge of these “firsts”, noting any changes or details not previously noticed.
While a class can keep a Calendar of Firsts, in this circumstance, this record will be a family record. Families can keep their calendar in a variety of ways –there is no wrong way to keep it. If you search online, you will find a few free Calendar of Firsts download files, a few you can purchase or you can create your own.
This activity ties in beautifully with the calendar focus of the early years, reinforcing the theme of time. This activity would take place during The Children’s Hour, allowing for experiences in nature to have already occurred for the day.
Use a journal style composition book. The top half of the page is blank and the bottom half has ruled lines.
First, divide the notebook into time divisions: months or seasons might be best. You might wish to write the name of the season or the month of the year in bold print across the top. If you divide by months, then set aside pages for each month and if you divide by season, be sure to set aside even more pages. It is not necessary to include the year in bold print, since the idea is to reflect the changes in life as the seasons/months change.
Your child can draw his “first” and dictate to you what he saw and where he saw it. Encourage him to be somewhat precise in describing the location, enough that he could go back to this place and look for it again.
Be sure to place your entry in the time section to which it belongs. For example, if you have divided it by months, then be sure to place your entry in the correct month. Include the day and year for each individual entry to have access to a more specific time. This makes it easier to follow the chronological flow when referring back to it.
For very young children, you may wish to share about nature experiences together as a small group rather than individually.
The teacher can use a large sheet of chart paper to create a monthly calendar grid. The table would consist of approximately 28-31 boxes, depending on the month. Write the name of the month in large letters across the top. If you can find a large desk calendar that can be adapted, then feel free to substitute this. Each month you would need to start a new calendar. You can use large rings attached at the top of the page to hold all of the months together and display the chart on an easel or portable bulletin board.
As a small group, the calendar can be completed by writing in any nature observations seen for the first time. Perhaps the children each want to contribute something they saw from their nature experience. If squares are large enough, more than one “first” can be recorded on any one day.
Create a grid pattern on a large sheet of chart paper with the months of the year going down the left side and -going across the top- the following categories: leaves, flowers, trees, birds, insects, mammals and reptiles/amphibians.
Each month record a “first” for each category. For example, in the month of October –going across- record the “first fallen oak leaf”, “first goldenrod sighting”, etc. Of course, it is not necessary for every box to be completed. Complete the chart as it best fits you area.
Suggestions of What to Include
First leaf of a particular tree or bush
First fallen leaf of a particular tree or bush
First fruit of a particular tree or bush
First bud of a particular tree or bush
First bloom of a particular flower
First new leaf of a particular plant
First sighting of a particular bird
First sighting of migration of a particular group of birds
First sighting of a particular bird that does not migrate (resident bird)
First time hearing the song of a particular bird
First nest sighting of a particular bird
First sighting of a particular insect
First sighting of a particular mammal
First sighting of a particular reptile or amphibian
First time hearing the sound of a particular insect
First time seeing the young of a particular mammal