Learning the days of the week – Early foundations for telling the time

The last couple of weeks have been all about the days of the week. It started with Megan randomly saying the day such as “is it Wednesday? Is it nursery day?” She then started singing a days of the week song which they had been learning at nursery. A few days later we went to messy play for the first time in ages and Leia sang the best days of the week song ever! Megan absolutely loved it and wanted to sing it all the time. I have posted a video of Isabel and Megan singing their favourite days of the week songs on my Facebook page.

Why is it important for children to know the days of the week? It is a great introduction to time. If they are able to understand what happens in a day and can sequence events in the right order, and they can understand language like yesterday, tomorrow, today, next week, last week correctly then they will have a solid foundation when it comes to learning how to tell the time later on. It is also useful for them to have this understanding as it also helps them to understand story sequences and order events in a story.

As you know I like to build on my children’s interests and develop activities that will help progress their understanding through fun, play based activities. Here are some things we have been doing together which may help to support your pre school child as they start to learn the days of the week and also some more advanced activities for your school aged child.

1. Songs

We have two firm favourites that are very popular to sing at the moment. Have a look at our video on Facebook or have a look on youtube for some songs. Singing is one of the quickest and easiest ways for a child to learn new language. Once they have the song firmly embedded then you can start to ask questions to develop their understanding. For instance sing the song then stop half way, which day comes after Tuesday? Which day comes after Saturday? What is the first day of the week? What is the last day etc.

2. Make your own calendar

We had a go at making a calendar for the week where Isabel was able to add significant events for each day. We folded a piece of A3 paper in half and then cut 7 strips along the top layer to represent each day. Then Isabel drew a picture on the second layer under each day to show what would be happening that day. We have the calendar hanging up in the kitchen at her height and each day she closes the previous day and opens the new one. It provides lots of lovely opportunities for talking about what will happen tomorrow, what happened yesterday and what she is looking forward to, what she has enjoyed doing. We are going to keep them so we can look back on what we did last week, or last month etc.

3. Books

There are a few books out there that are based around the days of the week. We love ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle and ‘Jaspers Beanstalk’ by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen’. After reading them plenty of times you can do some activities based around the books for instance encourage children to say what fruit the caterpillar ate on particular days. Painting the fruit onto plates then when they are dry putting them in order according to the days of the week. Pinterest has a few good ideas for activities to do based around ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’.

After reading ‘Jaspers Beanstalk’ we decided to plant some cress and then keep a diary of it for a week to see any changes. (If you are going to do this activity I would recommend growing something that will grow quickly otherwise they will get very bored- just like Jasper!!!) The girls have been really excited to look at the seeds each day and talk about anything that has changed or if it is the same. Isabel then will write a sentence in her diary to record the changes (if any). She has taken this role very seriously and is keen to note the day and think up an interesting sentence to go with it.

4. Photo diaries

These are great for children of all ages to join in with. We took a photo of something significant we did together each day for a week. The children were able to get involved and loved using the iPad or my phone to take a picture. Then at the end of the week we looked back at the pictures. We talked about the days such as on Saturday we went to the park. Today we…, yesterday we…. It would be great to print the photos and then spread them out on the floor to look at and talk about, but if this isn’t possible then it is just as fun to look at them on the camera.

5. Ordering the days of the week

Isabel wanted to do this activity and pretty much made it up herself. She started writing out the days of the week on paper, but then asked me if I could write them for her. She then cut them out and mixed them up, then put them back in the right order. She enjoyed this and it encouraged lots of great language using words like next, after, before. The pieces of paper were out on the table when her friend came over for a playdate. She asks what it was and Isabel explained it to her and she then proceeded to order the days, again using great language. Sometimes it is the simplest and easiest activities that the children get a lot of enjoyment from.

6. Threading 

Following on from the above activity another way of ordering the days correctly would be to write the names onto threading blocks (with a sticky label) or pasta. I happen to have some shells so we wrote them on the shells. Then encourage your child to thread them in the right order. Older children could do this independently, younger children can say the next day and have an adult hand them the block to thread. (Also great for practising those fine motor control skills.)

7. Duplo days

A similar activity to the one above however this time use Duplo blocks. Write the days of the week on the blocks then ask your child to stack them together in the right order.

All of the above activities can be adapted to learn the months of the year as well.

As always I hope you find these activities useful and enjoy doing them with your children. Let me know if you have any great ideas for learning the days of the week. Sophie 🙂

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