Helping our kids get mentally prepared for back to school can be tricky. But with this simple and fun back to school paper chain countdown calendar, our kids can get excited for school to start and can visually understand how many days are left until the big day.
My daughter and I were talking this morning as we snuggled in bed.
She asked me her favorite question of the summer.,,, She wanted to know when school started.
So I told her the date of the first day of school.
But being six years old and still learning about the concept of time, her follow up question was: “But how long until then?”
Short of pulling out my calendar each time she asks me and physically counting the days together, we needed a simple way to answer the question she asks almost every summer day: “How many days until school?”
Whenever we have something we’re looking forward to as a family such as birthdays, holidays, and moving houses, we love to keep track of the days with a countdown calendar.
Towards the middle of summer, as anticipation builds for the upcoming school year, we always create a back to school countdown calendar.
It helps all my kids get excited about the start of school, visually helps them understand how many days are left in summer, and keeps them from constantly asking me: “How many more days until school?”
My daughter loves making paper chains and I love that using one can help her grasp the concept of time. But the best part of using a paper chain countdown calendar is it mentally prepares her to head back to school.
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The importance of getting kids mentally prepared to head back to school
For our younger students, heading back to school, or heading to school for the first time can be daunting.
We can get our kids physically prepared by purchasing all the school supplies they’ll need, their first day of school outfit, and by finding the perfect lunch box.
But we also need to mentally prepare our kids for school.
Because children who are new or newer to school may be unsure of what to expect. They may feel nervous to be away from you all day or might be concerned if they’ll make new friends.
We can reassure our children about school by reading great books about school, meeting their teacher before school starts, and getting a visit from the Back to School Fairies.
But one of the simplest ways to mentally prepare our children is to create a back to school paper chain countdown calendar with our kids so they have a visual representation of how many days are left before they start school.
The back to school countdown calendar gets my kids excited about school every summer!
Sneak in some math with a paper chain countdown calendar
Since math is all around us, as an added bonus, this countdown calendar has several ways to sneak in some summer learning.
If your child is working on creating and following patterns, you can help them pick construction paper in a pattern as they build their links together. For a simpler pattern, stick to two colors and create an ABAB pattern.
For more advanced mathematicians, you can add more color choices and have them create the pattern they want to follow.
Number Sense and Counting
When it’s time to write numbers on the paper strips, kids who are learning to count can tell you what number comes next.
Kids who are starting to write their numbers can trace over the number you write or copy a number from a calendar or a number line.
Kids who are more advanced with their number writing can write the numbers independently.
And then they can count the number of links you build so they’ll know exactly how many days are left of summer.
If you pull out a calendar while you work on this project, you can show kids how after the 30th or 31st of each month, we start over at 1 again.
You can also teach them this fun and easy trick for remembering which months have 31 days.
You can discuss the days of the week and then count how many days there are until the beginning of school on a calendar.
- 1 ½-inch by 11-inch construction paper strips (the number of strips you need will be dependant on the number of days your kids have left until school starts)
- Black sharpie or dark crayon
- Crayons for coloring
- Calendar if desired
How to make a Back to School Paper Chain Countdown Calendar
On the first construction paper strip, write today’s date in the middle of the strip.
Loop the strip into a circle, with the date facing out, and carefully staple the ends together.
*Watch out for little fingers that are really, really excited to help but may move too close to the stapler.
On the second construction paper strip, write tomorrow’s date in the middle of the strip.
Put it through the first circle, loop it into its own circle, and then staple the ends together.
Continue with each construction paper strip, writing the next dates and linking them all together.
The last strip in the link will be their first day of school. My kids love to decorate that strip in a special way.
Hang their back to school countdown calendar in a spot where your kids will remember to rip off a paper strip each day.
As the strip gets shorter and shorter, so will their summer vacation.
So when your kids ask, “How many days until school starts?” you can point to the paper chain and help them count the links left on your countdown clock.
Now you just need to go find the perfect lunch box.
Nicole Black is a recovering elementary school teacher, a mom to three super busy kids, and mostly survives on strong coffee. She shares her best parenting tips and tricks for intentionally raising kind kids, creating a stronger family connection, and bullying prevention at Coffee and Carpool. Follow her at www.coffeeandcarpool.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coffeeandcarpool