Monday, March 3, 2008

Put That On Your Calendars

One of my favorite parts of my job as an Activity Director was making my monthly calendar. I enjoyed thinking of new and different activities to sprinkle among the regulars. You know, we have to keep Bingo, right? I liked finding out about those special and often silly "holidays" of the day, or week, even. My favorite? Of course it has to be National Chocolate Lover's Day. Anything having to do with chocolate is going to be in my favorites list.
What computer program do you use, if you use one, to create your calendars? I prefer the calendar part of the Print Master series of desktop publishing programs. I like the ease with which you can drag one day's schedule to another day for however many times you need to do so without retyping. So, if your bingo day is also your day for exercise and church services, you can type it in just once, and drag it to the other bingo days the rest of the month. You have room to add clipart to the calendar in just about any location you wish including on each individual day if you want to. You can also make your calendar in portrait or landscape modes. Print Master is a very user-friendly program for all sorts of desktop publishing tasks you might have for your job, including making banners and flyers for special events. Adding textboxes and clipart is as simple as a click and resizing is just as simple. Printmaster is from Broderbund.
I have also used Calendar Creator Plus, which is also a good program. With Calendar Creator Plus, there is a little more work needed to make specific activities to reprint each time they need to so you don't have to constantly retype them. The problem with Calendar Creator Plus when I used it was that it would not always hold what I needed to put inside one block so it would not print. Also it was often difficult to get the calendar template size to work so that it would print without cutting the side off. I admit it has been several years since I have used this program so I don't know if they have improved those areas or not. Calendar Creator also allows for clipart as well as other interesting tidbits of information you might want to put on your calendar. I did like that part of the program. I also liked being able to type an activity in once, set time schedules for it and not have to type it in again for a few months in a row if it was a repeating activity. Calendar Creator did not have other desktop publishing functions with it.
So, there you have it. My take on what I have actually used to create my calendars on the computer.
Before I ever got to putting my calendar on the computer to be printed out, I worked it out in rough draft form on a specially created spreadsheet with up to 7 cells in each daily block, and at least 5 full weeks of blocks. I also color coded it by marking all the regularly scheduled activities such as bingo in one color, special events such as holidays and parties, in another color. Then I used pencil for all the blank areas I needed to fill in until I had them set. Once it was complete I would put it in the computer.
Many AD's use the calendars in the publications we are always receiving or order. I never did get into using them because I liked having the separated lines of the spreadsheets.

What kinds of calendars system do you have for your main bulletin boards? I have used several, and seen many others that I would have liked to try. I have seen the wipe off boards, and the preprinted blank calendars that you can order. Personally I never liked those because I didn't like the handwriting on the ones I saw. When I did have to use them, I was very particular about how the handwriting came out. I wanted it, first of all, large enough and clean enough for the residents to be able to read. I am a perfectionist about many things and that was one of them. I was always having to start all over and throw away sheets that I had messed up. That gets expensive because those sheets are not cheap. My very favorite bulletin board calendar was in the first place I worked as an AD. It was HUGE! In fact, it was so big, I could use one full sheet of paper for each and every day of the month, staple those pages to the bulletin board in calendar shape, landscape style, and also be able to use paper that had pretty and appropriate for the month background. That means, I could use a snowy style paper for January, hearts and flowers for February, etc. As long as the paper did not make reading the calendar difficult, just about anything worked. Then the border around the completed calendar was decorated accordingly. Over the years I have managed to use the computer to resize those daily blocks so that I could use the same system for most smaller bulletin boards, although I often found preprinted paper difficult to use when cut into quarters, for instance. For those months, I simply used the clipart features of Print Master to decorate the calendar blocks.
Whatever system you choose to use, the most important thing is that the residents, family members, other visitors, and staff can read it to know what is going on and when.
Now it's your turn. Post your comments and share your calendar styles with the rest of us.

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