Starting a Simple Calendar of Firsts {Charlotte Mason Monday}

One of the new Nature Study ideas we’ve implemented into our home is the Calendar of Firsts.

I first heard about keeping a Calendar of Firsts at our local Charlotte Mason homeschool group meeting.  I was inspired further when reading through a section of the book, The Living Page.  As a side note, I highly recommend this book if you have an interest in the art of notebook keeping and how it relates to the Charlotte Mason philosophy.

What is a Calendar of Firsts? 

A Calendar of Firsts is an incredibly easy way to bring Nature Study into the little moments of every day.  
The idea is to create a Calendar that will serve as a family keepsake for many years.  The Calendar includes every month of the year but the days of the months are only numbered, they do not include days of the week (since the days change every year).  

How we use it our Calendar of Firsts:

As we observe things happening in nature, or as we specifically interact with nature, we record what we see and do.  It’s as easy as that.

The focus is on ‘firsts’, meaning we record first happenings.  For example, here are some of the things we could record in our Calendar of Firsts:

  • first tulip is seen pushing up through the soil
  • first bee of the spring season buzzes by
  • first Robin of the spring is seen high in the Black Walnut Tree (this happened last week!)
  • first Spring thunderstorm showers our neighbourhood
  • first seedlings are transplanted outdoors
  • first cucumber is picked
  • first tomato is sliced and eaten from the backyard garden
  • first chick hatches
  • first egg is laid by the hens
  • first leaf is seen changing colour in Autumn
  • first snowfall
  • first time the snow stays on the ground
  • etc!

I created our Calendar of Firsts in only a few minutes and for only a few dollars.  I purchased a very simple sketchbook and printed out twelve months worth of squares with numbers in them.  These are generic and as I mentioned above, there are no days of the week, only boxes with numbers.

As we record events, we write the year and what happened on that day in the corresponding date box.  
I can imagine that I may want to transfer this information to a more ‘fancy’ Calendar of Firsts in the future, but for now, this works just fine to get us started with this Nature Study habit.

Upper Left/Right: November, Lower Left: November, Lower Right: March

We haven’t been using our Calendar of Firsts for very long but already the children are keen to fill it with memories.  I’m actually disappointed that I didn’t implement one sooner, as I can see how special such a thing could be for children.  Already I find us all seeking those ‘firsts’ so we can record them.  The children are wide-eyed at every little new wonder, especially in Spring.

Spring is actually the perfect time to start a Calendar of Firsts!  What season is more glorious!?  Especially for us up here in the snowy North!

These types of activities encourage children in the habit of attention as well as inspire gratitude.  We can thank God for these signs of His faithfulness and these precious ‘firsts’ of every season as they come.  We can also live constantly seeking His beauty in its endless creative forms.

Here are some snapshots from this week when we spotted the first Robin of the Spring!  

This beautiful guy was singing his heart out high in our ancient Black Walnut.  The pictures are fuzzy because I was using an extreme zoom to identify that it was indeed a Robin.

Once we looked at the photos and clearly identified his song, it was a jumping, cheering mayhem in the kitchen.

 The first Robin had arrived, praise God for His faithfulness to bring Spring!

“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.” ― Charlotte M. Mason


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