Teaching Days of the week to little ones

An email has fluttered into my mailbox with the following question: I know it may sound silly, but I have problems teaching the days of the week to a group of children who lack support at home so, they don´t study; therefore, they don´t remember the days in English. I have tried games, and different activities but I feel they are getting tired and so am I. Perhaps you have an idea that I can put into practice. Thank you for taking the time to ask what others need.

After having asked a couple of more questions it turns out that the children are at an age where they can’t read yet and also the lessons are very short (30 mins).

Here’s the deal. Time is a very abstract concept for children and not easy to teach especially to those who can’t read yet. After all … flashcards are not much of a help in this case, right? How are you going to draw Monday?
So seeing that this kind of visuals that we often like to use, is not working, how can we get this concept across to an ESL student?

Here is my take on this: I actually don’t really teach them the days actively.

There are a couple of topics I usually don’t actively teach as a lesson per se. But I do teach it during circle time (or warm-up time) at the beginning of the lesson. Two of those topics are the weather and time. So you will find a weather chart in my classroom and next to it a calendar. In our morning routine, we talk about how the weather is today and what day today is. Often, as ESL teachers we don’t teach English every day to the same group of children, so I’m adding “Today is … yesterday was …. Tomorrow will be …”.

Then we sing a song, such as
Days of the week  by Super simple songs or
by Dr Jean

Since you will be repeating it every single time (and it literally takes you 2 minutes to do all this), it will stick to their brains after a while (not the first, session, not the second, but they’ll eventually get there and even the slow learners will have time to get used to the idea of time).

Very unstressful for both teacher and kids.

In addition, you could introduce the days through their own schedule.
Since time is something abstract, you might want to make things more concrete.
Most children have certain activities they do in the afternoons. Use this to your advantage. Let’s say Tom is playing soccer on Monday, eating at grannies on Tuesday, going to the library on Wednesday … etc
You could have the kids create their own calendar through the help of pictures.
You have 7 columns, write the days of the week in each column, maybe colour code them (red for Monday, yellow for Tuesday etc)
and then give them a few pictures of daily activities that they can stick in each column.

Videos or books are always helpful to introduce the topics. So for example, when we read the classic “The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle” I love to create topics around this book. One of those are the days of the week.

And then add an art project around it, that you can hang up the wall or place somewhere as decoration for them to remember.

I love this one, as it gets their hands involved: Sequencing
or this one; Sequencing caterpillar

It makes the whole concept a bit more relatable for our little ones.

If you use a combination of all of some of the ideas, it will give you and your kids a lot fewer headaches.

By the way …. have you heard of our new FB group for ESL preschool teachers? If you are teaching kids aged 3-5/6 then hop on over