Sunday, September 21, 2014

Birthday Celebrations

I think it is important to make children feel really special on their birthday.  We have so many restrictions on bringing food into the classroom that our children are not allowed to bring birthday treats.  So, before school started, I did a lot of browsing online to look for ideas that would make their birthday at school very special.  I have been really inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.  Reggio Emilia classrooms usually have a special display that is kept up year-round to honor children on their bithdays.  In my classroom, I adapted a few of the ideas I found online.  Here is a post from Fairy Dust Teaching which features Reggio Emilia-inspired birthday traditions.  You will find some beautiful ideas here.

One idea that I saw was a teacher who hung orbs from the ceiling labeled with the children's names.  On their birthday, she placed an LED candle in the orb so it was glowing when they arrived at school.  I love this idea!!  So, I searched for options to use for the candle "containers".  At Michael's craft store, I found small metal birdcages on clearance.  Perfect!!!  I also found some packages of small chalkboards in their dollar section.  So, I purchased the birdcages and chalkboards with the intent of hanging them from the ceiling in my classroom.  BUT, I later found out that due to fire safety issues, the fire marshal has banned us from hanging things from the ceiling.  Determined to put my plan into effect anyway, I decided to line the top of my cabinets with the birdcages.  We labeled the chalkboards with their names and used twine to attach them to the birdcages.  You can see them in the photo below.

So on a birthday day, when we enter the classroom for the first time, I make sure the lights are turned off and we tiptoe in to see whose birdcage has the candle glowing inside.  I keep it on top of the cabinets when we walk in, then we take it down and the birthday child holds it while we sing "Happy Birthday" to them.  We also have a Melissa & Doug wooden birthday cake playset that comes out only on birthdays.  The birthday child places the correct number of candles on the cake and pretends to blow them out when we sing to them.  Below you can see a birdcage with the lit candle.  I also bought the candle at Michael's.  It is an LED candle and has a little switch on the bottom to turn it on.  It flickers like a real candle and even smells like vanilla!!

Another tradition that we have for a birthday is that the birthday child gets to make a special piece of artwork for our birthday bulletin board.  We have cakes with each child's name and birthdate on the board.  On their birthday, they create a piece of art and we put it on the board in place of their cake.  In the photo below you can see that we have had three birthdays so far this year.  The birthday art is displayed on black construction paper with a white label for the child's name.  Their artwork will stay up all year.

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