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My Calendar of Firsts

It is a capital plan for the children to keep a calendar––the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations. Think of the zest and interest, the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions. Mason, Vol. 1 p. 54
And so, as we seek to implement more and more of an authentic, winsome, and relational education in our homeschool, we have now added a calendar of firsts!  We will use this in addition to our nature journals.  Previously, many of these items were recorded in our nature journals, but now that I understand the value of a book set up in this fashion, we will be adding this form of vitality to our school.

My Calendar of Firsts was designed by the teachers at Red Mountain Community School.  They collaborated with a local business, Night Owl Paper Goods,  and developed this eco-chic,  wooden journal.  It comes in a muslin bag for carrying, but even the bag could be used for a sampler or even a holder of found nature treasures.

Our vision was small. . .we just wanted a beautiful calendar to put in our student's hands.  The calendar of firsts is such a lovely addition to a nature notebook.  In fact, I think that it might be an easier starting point for new Mason students.  It begins with observation and a simple entry.  But for those of us already using a nature notebook, it is a simple addition to a daily or weekly habit. - Mandy Deter, teacher at Red Mountain Community School 
Night Owl Paper Goods

It is a simple, perpetual calendar and in the past I may have just tried to cobble something together myself from a template.  But I couldn't put something as nice as this together on my own.  There is something to be said for a keepsake book that the children take special care of and make entries with enthusiasm.  As my husband said, "A beautiful journal begets thoughtful entries." (He really did say that. Just now.)

Each page in My Calendar of Firsts has two columns.  Each column represents a day of the month which the child will enter before he begins.  Then, when a first is observed it is recorded on that day with a mention of the year that it occurred and perhaps the location.  So eventually, the child may notice that the crocus first breaks through the snow during the same week, year after year.  He will then eagerly anticipate the event because he knows.

This is the beginning of teaching our children science in a very different way.  The observation and recording of the first snowfall, the first robin, the first morning glory or the first red leaf will pave the way for all future scientific studies by making it real, alive and something that each child, even the youngest child, will "own" and apply to their future encounters with all scientific inquiries.
To know a plant by its gesture and habitat, its time and its way of flowering and fruiting; a bird by its flight and song and its times of coming and going; to know when, year after year, you may come upon the redstart and the pied fly-catcher, means a good deal of interested observation, and of, at any rate, the material for science.  -Mason, Vol. 3 p. 236

Here is the ordering  information for My Calendar of Firsts -

Update 9/15/16
From Cereta Lanier, registrar at RMCS (ceretalanier@gmail.com)

"We wanted to let you know that we have made a few changes to our format.  The book is now a larger hardback book in a neutral color with only the words “Calendar of Firsts” on the binding.  The inside pages are set up almost the same as our last book with the exception of four days being recorded on one full page.  We included in this edition a place for life lists in the back pages.  This book is also more affordable at $28."

A few other science narration journal posts -
Science Narration Journals
Science - Each New Thing is a Delight

12 comments:

  1. Oh, this is marvelous! I wonder if they would ship to Australia?

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  2. I love the idea, too. And adding our own pictures or drawings of the trees and our home from the outside will make it sweet.

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  3. Looks good. Emma and I have one going ( just a blank journal) because we declare : this is the FIRST time I've ....! Quite a memory maker. Have fun.

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  4. I SO want to do this. So much so that I bought the book. But I find it extremely discouraging not having marked seasons here... any ideas?

    amy in peru

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  5. ps. I think we should all stand and give kent a round of applause. no, really. :)

    i love you guys.

    :)

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  6. Sounds like an awesome idea! Any way you could share a photo of one page? Is it something they make special at Red Mountain or is it actually on their website? I couldn't find it...

    Thanks!

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  7. Dear Charlene,
    The journal is manufactured by Night Owl Paper Goods for Red Mountain Community School. You can order from Red Mountain at the link on the end of the post. They don't have any other information about the journal on their website at this time.
    HTH,
    Ring true,
    Nancy

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  8. Charlotte Mason's observations from book 1 still create a breathless fascination in me as they did when I first read them, years ago. The calendar is beautiful and a brilliant idea!

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  9. The scientific name for this recording of "firsts" is called phenology. The Freshwater Society of MN (http://freshwater.org/) puts out a beautiful calendar called the Weatherguide. It contains information on typical patterns in meteorology, phenology, and astronomy. It would be a useful tool to use with your kids, comparing their "firsts" with what is the typical pattern in MN.

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  10. Thank you for the update on the calendar of firsts! Unfortunately, every time I visit their site, I can't find the product. Is it something we have to personally contact them about ordering? Thanks for the help!

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    1. The only contact I have is the above email from Cereta. I would try that.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  11. At what age, or which form, would you begin a calendar of firsts?

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