Friday, 13 May 2016

Birthday Circle

     When I was in kindergarten, there was a wire that hung from one end of the classroom to the other. On it hung the months of the year. When it was a child’s birthday, they drew a picture of themselves and our teacher, Miss Lynch, clothespinned the picture next to the birthday month cut-out.  Since my birthday was in June, I waited with anticipation for my turn to come.  Two weeks before school ended, my special day finally arrived and I drew myself in a sunny yellow and white daisy dress that was a much treasured hand-me-down from a neighbor.  The teacher liked it so much she went across the hall to show the other kindergarten teacher.  This is my one and only memory of kindergarten and I often think about why this might have resonated with me.  Partly, it was because of my teacher’s response to my picture, but I also think that I loved the tradition of the birthday line and the opportunity to feel special for one day. 


Our birthday timeline - we draw cakes instead of portraits

     So when I became a kindergarten teacher, I began to search for ways to celebrate birthdays that were simple, yet meaningful, and discovered the Montessori Birthday Circle.  While there are many variations, here’s how it works in my classroom.
     A few weeks before a child’s birthday, I send home a timeline that has places for pictures of the child at each year of their life.  On the child’s special day, we gather round the birthday circle and the child walks around the "sun" once for each year of their life.


     At each rotation, the parent shares a photo/story of their child at that age. If parents aren't able to attend, they send in the timeline and I share it. Once we reach present day, I ask the child to tell something they would like to learn how to do or get better at in the next year as they move from age 5 to 6 or 6 to 7.


   
     We follow that with a fun movement activity where we "make a cake" for the birthday child.  This rhyme can be found on Dr. Jean's website.  Once the cake is made, I "light" the candles using a pointer with purple streamers and we sing Tom Chapin's Happy Birthday song.


     The child then picks out a favorite book from our classroom and the parent reads it to the class in their honor.



    Other ways we honor the birthday child include wearing a birthday sash,


choosing a birthday chair to sit in for the day, 


 
  and taking home a birthday rock as a memento of their special day.

   
     How do you celebrate birthdays in your classroom?

Thanks for stopping by!
Jackie


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