I don't know anyone who uses a calendar like that in their everyday life. We all write on our calendars, don't we? We keep track of events and count down the days until birthdays and holidays, right? So, why shouldn't first graders use a calendar the same way?
I use a laminated blank calendar. It just has the days of the week at the top. I fill in the numbers and the events we need to know about. This includes holidays, birthdays, assemblies, field trips, picture day (big smiley on the 15th), and days off of school. At the end of each month, I wash the whole thing down. I use Expo markers. I used to use Vis a Vis, but I never need them anymore (goodbye overhead projector, hello smartboard). Dry erase works just as well.
At the end of each day, I cross off that square on the calendar. My students know that "today" is the first box not yet X'd off. They are getting so good at looking to the top of the calendar to see what day is written there. I also do a variation of the Teacher Tipster's "elevator game" routine too.
I also like to ask,
"What day of the week was our field trip/assembly/etc?"
"How many days until __________?"
"How many days ago did we ____________?"
And then we count them as a group.
You can see other parts of our calendar routine on the board too, including weather, coins, base ten blocks, and today/tomorrow/yesterday. We also have some elements on our whiteboard. We move the ribbon on our thermometer after checking Weather Puppy on my ipad. I upgraded to the Boo version. We love that dog!
We also add a number to our empty 100 grid. We are working toward 100 days of school, of course. We add a tally for each day of the month. And something new we started last year was using ten frames. I printed out five small ten frames and glued them going down a strip of construction paper. I have two stampers (dogs of course) that are different colors. Each day I add a stamp. On the top row of the ten frame I stamp the red one. On the bottom I stamp the blue one. Each day we use the current ten frame to do two math number sentences. Red + Blue and Dogs + Empty boxes. That way we are working on our addition skills and making tens.
We always end our calendar routine by going over the schedule. These are the free cards I use. I love them. My students rely on them and are always catching my goof-ups! I put magnets on the back and use them on my whiteboard. I love telling my students about all the great learning I have planned for the day.