The Birthday Celebration
Many years ago, when I taught third grade, I had an "ah-ha moment" that changed the way I celebrate birthdays at school. We had FIVE birthdays in one week. Did every single one of them bring cupcakes? You betcha! Was it also the week of Valentine's? Yup! Did more kids bring in sugary treats for Valentine's Day? You know it! We were so sick of sweets! A couple weeks later, another birthday and another two dozen cupcakes. We were outside scarfing them down, when I noticed one of my little guys looking very bummed out. I asked what was wrong. He told me that he had never had cupcakes for his birthday and he never would. The terrible part was, he was right! This was a kid whose family had fallen upon hard times. This was a kid who had a difficult home life and often went without. This kid was not going to get cupcakes and that really bummed ME out! So, I looked at the situation. FIVE sets of cupcakes and NO cupcakes. Ah-ha! The teacher light bulb flashed over my head and the birthday celebration was born!
Here are the pros of monthly birthday celebrations:
- Everyone is included! We even have a celebration for summer birthdays.
- I plan it! Celebrations are always on a Friday and are built into my lesson plans.
- We get a variety of treats instead of perpetual cupcakes.
Here are the cons of monthly birthday celebrations:
- Some parents are not good at following directions! If I get treats on a child's birthday (not the celebration day), I send them home. Yep! I am that firm! It isn't fair to all the kids and parents who abide by the rules to let the ones who don't have treats. This rarely ever happens because it is a part of our routine and I have lots of communication with families. Those who send treats know they are breaking the rule.
- Sometimes nobody brings anything. When this happens, I bring a treat for the class. It is important to me that all students are celebrated - even if that means I have to be the one to supply the treats.
To remind parents about this class rule, I send home a little note at the beginning of the month. They can sign-up to bring something or decline. Click here to print your own notes.
So on their real birthdays they get NOTHING? Of course not! We celebrate that too, just not with treats. Here are some of the ways we celebrate actual birthdays:
1) Reading Birthday Books
Have you read about how I love scanning books? If not, click here to check it out! I am passionate about reading books from my board - the ultimate big book! I have a folder on my desktop called "Happy Birthday". I keep all my digital birthday resources here. In this folder, I have another folder filled with birthday books I have scanned. I have thirty birthday books. To easily track which books I have read, I named the files with numbers. For example "1 - How do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday?" All of my students are numbered and I read the book with their number. If Abby Armstrong is number 1, on her birthday we are going to read How do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday. I am not going to lie, scanning 30 books and creating digital versions of them takes time. I put the time in several years ago and have been reaping the benefit ever since. It is worth the initial investment of your time. If you don't already own birthday books, look for digital versions and save yourself the hassle of scanning. Before I realized the joys of reading from my board, I had bought entirely too many books. I could not justify buying digital versions of books I already owned, so I started scanning. I can't talk about scanning without mentioning that it is only okay to scan books for your own use. You cannot share digital copies of your books, sell them, or post them on the internet. This is a copyright violation. I don't want to give you a bad idea that could get you into trouble!
2) Happy Birthday Handwriting
Oh man, do I ever HATE handwriting. SO important, but SO boring! Kids hate it, too. BUT, they love making things for their friends. I made some Happy Birthday handwriting sheets. They trace the happy birthday song and turn it into a card to give to the birthday boy or girl. It is good practice and the kids work extra hard because they want to do a nice job for their friend. These sheets are always a big hit in my classroom. Click here to download a freebie! FYI - I predicted that I would get requests for d'nealian and cursive, so I included those options.
3) Birthday Themed Behavior Management
Remember that birthday file on my desktop? It also has some of my Classroom Management Life Savers with a birthday theme. To read more about Classroom Management Life Savers, click here. These keep the class on-track and they are extra-special when we have a birthday in the house! I hope I am not including too many freebies in this post, but I actually love giving things away and if you have never tried my Classroom Management Life Savers, I want you to try them out. Click here for a Birthday Puzzle.
This one is silly, but I really love it! The sense of smell is very powerful to me and is attached to memories. In my classroom, we melt a birthday cake scented wax cube from Scentsy only on a birthday! All day long, it smells like birthday cake in our room. It is a fun and easy tradition. The kids actually notice and remind me if I forget.
5) The Birthday Bag
I have several take-home bags for my kiddos. One of the most popular is the birthday bag. When a student has a birthday, they take the bag home for the night. Inside, there are several birthday themed books and a little birthday stuffed animal. To make the bag, I just took a plain tote and used fabric paint on the front. On the back of my bags, I use fabric paint to write "Please enjoy this bag tonight and return it to school tomorrow." There is also a journal for students to write about how they spent their big day. When they return the bag the following day, they share their page with the class. To make the journal I used a three-ring binder and clear page protectors. In the pockets at the back of the binder, I put enough blank journal pages to last all year. For copies of my journal pages, click here.
For more birthday ideas, visit my birthday board on Pinterest!
I am celebrating my birthday with a sale in my TpT store! Stop on by to save 15% off of everything in my store!
Do you have any special ways to celebrate birthdays in your classroom? Share them in the comments. I would love to read them!
Until next time,