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Friday, June 12, 2015

Birthday Celebrations!


Birthdays Are So Much Fun!
Birthday celebrations are so beautiful in the Montessori classroom.  Planning for them can be as easy as making a list of all of your student’s birthdays by month and taping to the inside of you classroom cubby or closet.  At the end of each month, make a habit of checking your birthday list and write down which parents you need to contact to schedule your birthday celebrations.  Which leads me to the next subject…

Parent Involvement…or Not
This is really up to you and how you envision celebrations of this kind in your classroom! Speaking as a Montessori parent myself, I LOVED attending my daughter’s birthday celebrations in her classroom!  As a teacher, I liked sharing this time with parents. 

When I emailed to schedule the celebration, I would also attach the form below and the Birthday Snack Guidelines (see under Snack heading).  The snip below is just part of the form, which is the same my mentor used.  I only asked that the top of it to be returned if the parent could not attend so I could tell the child’s special story.  Now, if you choose to have the Celebration of Life be a class only celebration, I would suggest asking for a document of this nature to be returned by the parent so you would be able to share the birthday child’s story with the class.

 
Snack

I have always taught at schools where there was a strict no sugar policy.  When this is the case, parents need ideas of what to bring if they would like to provide a special snack.  I used this basic guide for many years.  My students loved making a fruit salad in class to be served during the morning snack.


Pictures

Again, your call!  I gave the parents options-the first two bullets below.
  • They could come to class with one picture from each year of their child’s life to share at circle and then take home.
  • They could make a poster board with one picture from each year of their child’s life that we could hang in the classroom for a few days. This was my favorite!  The children love the baby pictures and great conversation happen in front of these poster boards!!

  • You could provide a frame for the parents to fill.  I knew a teacher who sent home a large 16”x20” Acrylic Box Frame (Michaels Craft carries them) for the parents to decorate with photos.  Remember that you will need at least two frames to allow for twins or children that might have the same birthdays.

What Does It Look Like?

Above is my daughter’s first birthday celebration in her Montessori Primary classroom.  The teacher used a candle for the sun and color coded the months by season.  You can see her photo poster board behind her.

I used a spherical paper lantern as the sun because I always misplaced/ran out of matches and inevitably a child’s feelings would get hurt that I couldn’t make the candle burn for their celebration.  This solved the problem!  I also used cards with the months laid around the lantern.



This year I saw this (please excuse my representation above! It is not nearly as neat as the teachers!).  Each ray of the sun had a month printed on it.  The sun was assembled in the center of the group for the child to walk around.

How to Facilitate It

After the children are settled at group, the parent and the birthday child sit at the head of the circle.  The child will carry the political globe (with the colored continents) or another small globe around the circle once for each year of their life.  Often a song is sung by the group as the child walks.  My class used to sing:

The Earth goes ‘round the sun tra-la
The Earth goes ‘round the sun
The Earth goes ‘round the sun tra-la
And now (name of the child) is (age)

Before you begin the walking, ask the parent about the arrival of the child, place, time, who was there. Then start the “Earth going around the sun”.  After each turn around the circle you ask the parent what the child was like the age of one, then two, then three, and so on.

After this portion is finished you could:
  • Clap and count for each year of the child’s life.
  • Sing Happy Birthday (my students loved to add “cha-cha-cha” to the end).
  • “Pinch to grow an inch”.
  • Have the group thank the child for the birthday snack.

 How to Manage It

My advice to you, and something I did myself in the classroom every August, was to postpone ALL birthday celebrations for the month.  Please give you and your class a month to learn how to be at group together before adding the excitement of birthdays and parents!!  I’ve never had a parent upset that I was postponing their child’s August birthday until the start of September because I wanted the help the children learn how to be respectful group members.

When you are ready for those celebrations, I would let the children seat themselves where they like when they come to the circle.  Then take a look to see which children you know are not going to be able to manage themselves during celebration while sitting next to the child they have chosen to sit by. Separate them by moving one a few children down the circle.  Then, direct those little ones who have difficulty sitting nicely or keeping hands to themselves or sitting quietly and seat them next to you at the circle.  (Good ‘ol proximity at its best!)  You will be able to help them manage themselves during the celebration by touching their knee softly if they start to get wiggly to bring awareness back to their body, or you are close enough for a quiet “shhh” if they are speaking out.

That’s it! Like everything else we do, practice make perfect!!
Leave a comment if you would like to share your Celebration of Life ritual!  I only have a few ways here, the possibilities are endless!!

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