How do you celebrate a child’s birthday in class?
I have a colleague who prefers to keep birthdays low-key in class. In fact, they are so low-key they are basically ignored. He sees them as a distraction and makes no fuss whatsoever. What a Scrooge!
This teacher is an exception (I hope!).
Most teachers will celebrate a child’s birthday and quite right too although this might only amount to a token-gestured half-hearted effort of the Happy Birthday song. That’s not good enough!
A birthday is a special day whatever age you are and it needs to be celebrated. It is also an opportunity to teach and learn.
There is a lesson Montessori teachers use to celebrate birthdays called “The Celebration of Life” and this involves the child standing in the middle of a circle with all of the children seated around him or her. In the centre of the circle is a paper cut-out of a sun, a candle, and the 12 months of the year.
Children carry a globe and walk around a candle to represent that the Earth completes one revolution around the sun for each year of a child’ life. They bring in a photograph of themselves from each year of their lives and this helps them understand time sequence and connect the passage of time.
As the child walks, the teacher and children sing:
“The Earth goes round the sun, the sun
The Earth goes round the sun.
The Earth goes round the sun, the sun
And (Child’s Name) turned one!” (then 2, 3 and 4 etc according to their age).
After each turn (therefore each year), the child stops and everyone looks at their picture for that year. When the child reaches their year, the candle is blown out and the class sing the following to the tune of Happy Birthday:
We celebrate your birth,
And your place on the Earth,
May the sun, moon, and stars,
Bring you peace where you are!
The celebration is a fun way to introduce the concepts of time, such as the year, the month, and the day, as well as the Earth, the sun, and how the earth revolves around the Sun.
By participating in these celebrations, children learn the importance of rituals in our lives as well as their role in the universe. There are lots of variations to the above celebration so do you research and do what works for you.
Birthday celebrations are a unique and fun way to celebrate the lives of our children so do it in style, whatever their age.