Every once in a while I come up with a parenting idea that sticks.
Introducing the daily “What Are We Doing Today?” chart.
Perfect for young kids who can’t read yet, the chart serves two main purposes:
- teaching days of the week, and
- providing an easy-to-understand list of what your child can expect each day.
When my firstborn was three and her baby sister was new on the scene, I searched for a way to help normalize her routine. Rather than field constant questions like what day is it today and where are we going this morning, I came up with a creative solution—a fun visual—for outlining activities and expectations each day.
Here’s how it works.
1. I found a blank calendar poster at our local educational supplies shop and had it laminated.
2. In the center of each square, I placed an adhesive Velcro dot (the bristle side).
3. Then I mounted the calendar to the wall using Velcro hanging strips.
4. Onto standard weight paper, I printed clip art images to represent our various daily, weekly, and special occasion activities, such as preschool, library story time, music class, church, Mommy’s work day, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointment, etc. I also bought some cardstock-weight weather symbols and letters from the educational supplies shop.
5. Next I cut out each image and glued it to a small square of cardstock. On the back side, I placed an adhesive Velcro dot (the soft side). I also wrote a brief description of the activity, as a reminder of what I intended the picture to represent.
6. Now each morning, my kids and I look out the window to determine the weather. This is a great lesson in observation and conclusion for little ones. Then we stick the appropriate weather symbol beneath the current day of the week. (I tell my kids, “Today is Monday. Where on the chart is Monday?)
7. Then I post the activities of the day. I ask my daughter to look at the chart and tell me what we’re doing. She is able to describe our plans according to the pictures.
This one says: Today is Monday, the weather is partly cloudy, it’s a school day, then we have ballet class and family game night.
Extra credit for intentional moms: When my firstborn was learning her alphabet, I’d also tack up a letter of the day. I’d ask her to tell me the name of the letter, what sound it makes, and two or three words that start with that letter. And okay I confess I’ve completely neglected to do this part with my younger daughter, but I did remember to feed her a vegetable today and change her into fresh underwear, so she’s fine.
Make it your own!
You can make your “What Are We Doing Today?” chart as simple or detailed as you want. Our arsenal of chart images has grown over the years as we’ve added new activities to the schedule. I keep all the images stashed in a sealable kitchen container.
Here are some ideas for activities/images to include in your “What Are We Doing Today?” chart.
- Church/Sunday school/Bible study
- Swimming lesson, ballet class, sports practice, etc.
- Stroller walk
- Play date
- Holidays (Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, July 4, etc.)
- Field trip
- Eating out/Restaurant
- Grocery shopping
- Special chores (such as watering the garden, raking leaves, etc.)
- Daddy—If your husband travels or is often away in the evenings, it helps to show the kids whether or not he’ll be home. When we first made our chart, my husband attended a class one night per week, so if the picture of Daddy wasn’t on the chart that day, the kids knew not to expect him home before their bedtime.
- Mommy—If you have something special going on, help your kids anticipate it on the chart. For example, on the evenings I’m scheduled to attend a worship team rehearsal, I post a clip art image of a singing woman. That way my kids know I won’t be home to tuck them in.
We’ve been using the daily “What Are We Doing Today?” chart for four years now. My firstborn no longer needs it, but she still enjoys sticking our daily activity pictures onto the chart and helping her sister learn her days of the week.
Sing it with me now!
To the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine”
There are seven days
There are seven days
There are seven days
In the week!