The humble calendar can become a very interesting teaching tool. The very human need of keeping track of time has existed in each civilization from the beginning of humankind. The most commonly used Gregorian calendar today, was instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. With 365 days and an extra day added every four years in the leap year, make sit one of the most accurate calendars. It was derived from the Julian calendar that was used in the Roman Empire by Julius Caesar. However, there are multiple calendars in use today which can make an interesting study.
The Chinese Calendar
This is a lunar calendar with a twelve year cycle. It is based on the positions of the sun and moon. Each year is represented by an animal. Those people born in a particular lunar year are supposed to have characteristics associated with that animal. Have the homeschool students research when they have their New Year. Also find out what animal rules the current year and the year of their own birth. Do they feel that they display the characteristics of their birth year animal?
The Jewish Calendar
Also known as the Hebrew calendar, it is used to observe prominent Jewish festivals. It is a lunisolar calendar which has 13 months in some years and 12 months in others. The number of days in the month also varies from 29 to 30 days depending on astronomical phenomena such as the rotation and revolution of the Earth, as well as the rotation of the moon around the Earth. It is said to have been set down by the Sanhedrin president Hillel II in approximately C.E. 359. Have the homeschool students find five important days of the Jewish calendar that are relevant today for celebrations.
The Mayan Calendar
This shot to fame in 2012 as the year that signaled the end of time. It is actually a set of three interlocking calendars, the sacred calendar of 260 days called the Tzolkin, the solar calendar of 365 days known as the Haab, and a Long Count calendar of much longer time periods. It has a five day week with a 360 day year. Have the homeschool students learn how to write the date in the Mayan calendar system using the notifications of all three calendars as the traditional Mayan temple priests did.