The first time I saw a Montessori birthday celebration was when I observed at a school during my training. I immediately fell in love with the idea. I loved the simplicity of it, along with the introduction to a bit of science and history. I witnessed several birthday celebrations while working in the classroom, but recently I experienced the event in a whole new way – my son turned four years old, and had his very first Montessori school birthday celebration.
What is a Montessori birthday celebration? Each school has its own slight variation, but basically it goes like this:
A candle, representing the sun, is lit in the middle of the room. Labels with each month of the year are laid out in a circle radiating out from the “sun.” The children and teachers sit in a wide circle around the sun and months of the year, while the birthday child stands next to the month of his or her birth holding a globe to represent the Earth (this is not shown in the pictures, though, because my son chose not to hold the globe…). The child then walks around the sun one time for each year of his or her life. As the child walks, the teacher talks about what the child was doing when he or she was that age. Parents usually write a sentence or two or send in pictures of the child). At our current school, the teacher also hands the child one flower each time he goes by for him to put in a vase, providing a visual representation of his new age. At the end the child may extinguish the candle and the class sings “Happy Birthday”.
It really is a lovely ceremony.