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Learning area: Mathematics
Year level: Year 2
Country: China
General capability: Intercultural understanding

This learning sequence provides ideas and classroom resources to extend students' familiarity with calendars: their structure, format, inherent patterns and uses. The activities support the Australian Curriculum for Mathematics: Measurement and Geometry.

Students will:

  • collect or create calendars to explore the different ways calendars are presented and record classroom, school and cultural events and celebrations to construct their own calendars
  • examine the zodiac years and zodiac signs to place themselves according to their birthdays in the Chinese zodiac
  • identify the many number patterns, calculations, conjectures and proofs that can performed using calendars to calculate patterns.

Chinese zodiacThe Chinese Zodiac

Related resources

Activity 1: Making and using calendars

In this activity students will collect or create calendars to discuss the different ways calendars are presented. Days of the week, months of the year, calendar numbers and daily events can be used to generate materials.

Task 1: How many calendars are there?

  1. Display a collection of calendars to stimulate discussion about the different ways calendars are presented. Discuss:
    • the order of the days of the week: Sunday to Saturday, Monday to Sunday, or …
    • how the days are named: Sun, Mon, Tue … or S  M  T  W  T  F  S
    • vertical and horizontal formatted calendars.

Task 2: Yesterday, today, tomorrow

This activity looks at a 'rotating' three-day calendar and the sequencing of days.

When we think about a calendar, we mostly think about one for a whole year which contains twelve months. We can break this into smaller calendars. The focus is on fewer days and the vocabulary can differ.

Specific days can have a number of different names during the year. For example, at different times, 4 February can be today, tomorrow, yesterday, next Tuesday, last Tuesday, Lia’s birthday or Sri Lanka Independence Commemoration Day.

  1. Ask students to create an individual three-day calendar on a chart with the headings of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Students then enter important events happening each day.
  2. Make it a classroom routine to change the dates every three days.
  3. At the beginning of the school day talk about what events are occurring today, what we did yesterday and what is happening tomorrow.
  4. Towards the end of the school day, talk about the Yesterday, today and tomorrow calendar for the following day. Events can be written on sticky notes and placed on the calendar.

This calendar will serve as a reminder of things students may need to remember for the following day … It’s Liam’s birthday, It’s our library day, or bring your sports shoes, musical instruments and so on.

Task 3: This week

  1. Provide students with individual weekly calendars, using This school week – horizontal and This school week – vertical, or as a class activity ask students to create their own calendars.
  2. Make it a classroom routine during the week (perhaps Friday afternoon) to establish the calendar for the following week. Ask the students:
    • What things change?
    • What things stay the same?
  3. Throughout the week refer to the calendar to remind students about events.
  4. Allow students to volunteer some of the events that should be shown on the calendar.
  5. Make sure cultural and political events and celebrations that have relevance to the students and/or their ancestors and others are included on the calendar. Ask students to have a look at official international holidays for some dates that may be relevant to your students or the families of students.
  6. Use further internet searches to find out details about the origins of the events and the nature of the celebrations.

The use of the calendars and discussion of the events can be part of an integrated approach to broaden students' awareness of cultural events and celebrations.

Task 4: This month

  1. Provide students with two individual monthly calendars, one with This month (horizontal) and the other with This month (vertical). You could conduct a whole class activity and have students create these calendars.

    Students can work with more than one calendar at a time, for example Yesterday, today and tomorrow, This week and This month calendars, while keeping an eye on the bigger picture of the term or the year.

    Explain to your students that if we know the day of the week on which any date in the month falls, we can establish the calendar for that month. Indeed, knowing one such fact – 8 November 2011 is a Tuesday – we can 'make' the calendar for the rest of the year(s) and backwards as well.

  2. Record classroom, school and cultural events and celebrations relevant to the students and discuss ideas associated with them. You may wish to vary the format of the calendar. For example, you could:
    • use full names, abbreviations such as Sun, Mon, Tue, and letter abbreviations such as S, M, T for the names of the days
    • use formats in which the numbers are arranged vertically and horizontally
    • choose different 'first' days/sequences of the weekdays, such as Sunday to Saturday, or Monday to Sunday.
  3. Make a calendar for March with the first day of the month being a Tuesday.
  4. For more able students, make a calendar for the month where the 15th day is a Wednesday.
  5. With student input, identify and discuss the patterns within a calendar: 8 November is a Tuesday this year, so 1 (8-7) November, 15 (8+7) November, 22 (15+7) November and 29 (22+7) November are Tuesdays too.
  6. Alternate the use of both formats (days listed horizontally, days listed vertically) to make calendars for different months when conducting the This month activity. Vary the instructions. For example: Make a calendar for this month (say May, giving the additional information that 1 May is a Thursday); Make a calendar for June given that 8 June is a Monday; Make a calendar for December given that Christmas Day is a Sunday; Make a calendar for October given that 1 November is a Friday.


Image: AEF

Activity 2: Events, festivals and celebrations

In this activity, students will discuss events, festivals and celebrations that they know about and include them in a variety of classroom calendars. 

Task 1: General events, festivals and celebrations

  1. Use an interactive whiteboard to display events, festivals and celebrations as shown on the right.
  2. Identify the names and dates of events, festivals and celebrations relevant to students in the class.
  3. These events could be included, acknowledged and discussed in classroom calendars and celebrated with a classroom event.
  4. If students are studying a particular country of the Asia region, identify and discuss key festivals and celebrations then place them on the relevant calendar.

Task 2: Events this term

  1. Create a calendar template with the months of a school term on a chart or whiteboard.
  2. Ask students to record classroom, school and cultural events and celebrations on the calendars.
  3. Discuss each event with your students.

Task 3: Events this year

  1. Use a commercially produced year planner or create a calendar with months of the year on a chart or whiteboard.
  2. Ask students to add all of the key events and celebrations that they can think of.
Country Event Date: Day & Month Comment
Australia Australia Day 26 January Many countries in the Asia region observe New Year’s Day and Christmas Day.
Anzac Day 26 April
Christmas Day 25 December
Bangladesh Independence Day 26 March Celebrating independence from Pakistan, 1971
Bhutan National Day 17 December
Brunei Independence Day 23 February Celebrating independence from United Kingdom, 1984
Cambodia Independence Day 9 November Celebrating independence from France, 1953
China Chinese New Year
(Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year)
23 January 2012 Chinese New Year is a significant time of year and is based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. It begins on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar and ends with the Lantern Festival of on the 15th day. It is celebrated/observed in many Asian counties and Western countries where there is an Asian population.
National Day 1 October
Labour Day/May Day 1 May
Timor-Leste Independence Day 20 May Celebrating independence from Portugal, 2002
Liberation Day 28 November Proclamation of Independence Day
Hong Kong Chinese New Year 23 January 2012 See: China/Chinese New Year above
Labour Day 1 May
Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day 1 July
National Day 1 October
India Republic Day 26 January Celebrating independence from the UK, 1947
Independence Day 15 August
Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday 2 October
Indonesia Proclamation of Independence Day 17 August Celebrating independence from The Netherlands
Japan Shogatsu - New Year 1 January  
National Foundation Day 11 February Known as Kenkoku Kinenbi
Children’s Day 5 May
Labour Thanksgiving Day 23 December
Korea North Independence Day 9 September Celebrating the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Korea South Liberation Day National Day 15 August Celebrating independence from Japan
Malaysia Independence/Freedom Day 31 August There are many religious and ethnic festivals – Hindu, Chinese, Muslin, Islamic and Buddhist.
Malaysia Day 16 September
Maldives Independence Day 26 July Celebrating independence from United Kingdom, 1965
Republic Day 11 November
Mongolia Naadam Day 11 July
Independence Day 29 December
Myanmar Independence Day 4 January Celebrating independence from United Kingdom, 1948
Peasant's Day 2 March
Martyr's Day 19 July
Nepal Martyr’s Day 30 January
National Democracy Day 18 February
Constitution Day 9 November
New Zealand Waitangi Day 6 February Celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840
Anzac Day 25 April
Pakistan Pakistan Day 23 March
Independence Day 14 August Celebrating independence from United Kingdom, 1947
Papua New Guinea National Remembrance Day 23 July 230
Independence Day 16 September Celebrating independence from Australia, 1975
Philippines People Power Day 25 February
Independence Day 12 June
National Heroes' Day 30 August 2012
Singapore Labour Day 1 May
Singapore National Day 9 August Marking the separation of Singapore from Malaysia, 1965
Sri Lanka Independence Commemoration Day 4 February Celebrating independence from United Kingdom, 1948
Thailand The King’s Birthday 5 December
Constitution Day 10 December
Taiwan Peace Memorial Day 28 February
Tomb-Sweeping Day 5 April
National Day 10 October
Vietnam Tet (Lunar New Year) 23 January 2012
May Day 1 May
Proclamation of Independence/National Day 2 September Celebrating the proclamation of independence from Japan and France, 1975

Activity 3: Chinese zodiac match

In this activity, students will investigate Chinese zodiac years and Chinese zodiac signs and then place themselves in the Chinese zodiac. 

Task 1: The Chinese Zodiac

  1. On a whiteboard or screen, show students the web page illustrating the 12 Chinese animals signs that are depicted on a Chinese zodiac calendar.
  2. Point out the origin of the 12 signs, their sequence, and the personality traits associated with them.
  3. Then ask students to identify their zodiac sign.
  4. Show students the Chinese zodiac and on the screen enter their birth dates to confirm their signs.
  5. Ask them to note that the years in the table coincide with Western years (1 January to 31 December). This website refers to the Chinese New Year, so some students born in the same year may have different Chinese zodiac signs!

Task 2: Chinese Zodiac match

  1. Provide students with sets of cards generated from Chinese zodiac signs. There are 12 picture cards, one for each of the Chinese zodiac signs.
  2. Print the Chinese zodiac year cards and cut them out. 
  3. Ask students to play the game Chinese zodiac match. Working individually or in small groups the students have to match (or group) the zodiac sign cards with the year cards. There will be two years for each eight of the zodiac cards and three for four of the zodiac cards. Remember there is a 12-year cycle – the zodiac signs repeat every 12 years – so if 1984 is the Year of the Rat, 1996 (1984 + 12) will also be the Year of the Rat.

Activity 4: Calendars and patterns

In this activity students will use play a game to learn about calendars, and calculate patterns.

Task 1: Follow me calendars

  1. Share the 27 Follow me cards (not necessarily equally) amongst the students.
  2. The student with the START card reads it aloud to the class.
  3. The student holding the card with the correct response reads the response card, and so on.
  4. Cards are read aloud until the LAST card is read.
  5. The teacher can provide assistance with the reading and interpretation. The activity is re-usable. Shuffle the cards and start again.

Task 2: Calendar Patterns

  1. There are many patterns, calculations, conjectures and proofs that can be identified and performed using calendars. Calendars are rich in number patterns as simple as: If the 2nd of a month is a Saturday, so too will the 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th be Saturdays.
  2. Discuss the patterns. Make conjectures; for example, how many Friday the 13ths can there be in a year?

In this learning sequence, calendars are used to explore number patterns and to make and prove conjectures. Teachers can find ways to adapt and extend the activities described in this collection for use in years beyond Year 2. They include opportunities to make strong connections with the historical development of calendars and cultural events and celebrations.

Activity 1: Making and using calendars

Create wall calendars for whole-class use. Students will maintain the calendars by attaching appropriate day and date labels. Daily activities can be written on sticky notes.

Many of the activities described in this resource may be used as year-long 'Mathematics time' routines or integrated into general or cross-curricular class time. The important educational feature of representing events in calendars or parts of calendars is that the cyclical/periodic aspects of events and routines are highlighted and recorded.

Activity 2: Events, festivals and celebrations

Include events and celebrations as part of the sticky note recordings of daily activities and events on the class calendars. Focus particular attention on students’ birthdays, and national days and festivals relevant to the students in the class.

All countries have special days on their calendar. Some are celebrations of cultural events; some are days on which historical or political events are remembered and/or observed. Some dates are fixed, such as New Year’s Day (1 January) or Australia Day (26 January); other dates vary from year to year and may depend on the lunar calendar, such as the Chinese New Year.

In many instances cultural festivals are held in association with the events. India, it is said, has more festivals than there are days in a year.

The chart provided on Events, festivals and celebrations shows the dates of some significant national days, cultural events and festivals of Asian countries. Where no year is given, the events are fixed dates; that is, they are celebrated on that date irrespective of the day of the week on which the date falls. For events and festivals where the dates vary to fall on particular days of the week or to align with the lunar calendar, the date for 2012 is given.

The internet is a rich source of information about cultural festivals, national days and other observances.

Activity 3: Chinese zodiac match

Use the suggested websites to enter students’ birth dates and identify their Chinese zodiac sign according to their year of birth. Note the regularity in the cycle of zodiac signs (12 years). Students will play a game called Chinese zodiac match, using cards produced from Chinese zodiac years and signs. 

Activity 4: Calendar and patterns

In this activity students will use Follow me cards to learn about calendars, or calculate patterns in calendars.

Teachers interested in pursuing additional ideas with their students should refer to:

  • Milton, K & Reeves, H, From conjecture to proof, Objective Learning Materials, Melbourne, 2002.
  • Swan, P, Calendar capers, Mathematical Association of Western Australia, 1994.

Useful websites

  • Printable Calendar Template> – printable weekly, monthly and yearly calendar templates formatted for Microsoft Word
  • Calendar Maker – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly calendars which can include photos and notes for quick reference.
  • National Days Around The World – month by month listing of national days
  • Asian Information – individual links to further information about the countries of Asia
  • Calendar Creator – allows selection of a country and year to obtain a calendar with a listing of public holidays, festivals and observances. This site also provides access to time zones, world clocks, and sun and moon information.
  • 12 Chinese Animals Signs – a Chinese zodiac from the Confucius Institute Online. It contains video clips with commentary in Chinese and English.
  • Chinese Zodiac – information on the Chinese zodiac which allows visitors to learn general information about the Chinese zodiac as well as specific information about their own animal sign
  • It is recommended that teachers preview websites to ensure that they are suitable for their students prior to use in class. Content accessed via these links is not owned or controlled by the Asia Education Foundation and is subject to the terms of use of the associated website.
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