“A Montessori birthday celebration takes a different approach, aiming to introduce a little wider understanding and ceremony into the proceedings. Children are given a first impression of the relationship between Earth and the Sun and taught that a year is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to circle the Sun once. Children are also told the story of their lives, year by year, from birth to present day. ” – How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin
In preparation for my daughter’s 4th birthday in her Montessori Children’s House, her class director asked me to organize a few things for the day; a book to donate to the class of our choosing and to write an inscription at the front, to bring a small photo book which contains a photo of my daughter when she was a baby and then each year including a recent photo close to when she turns 4. The other thing we needed to organize was instead of a cake to share, they encouraged us to bring fruit instead. I opted for a whole watermelon as It needed to be shared with 34 children. Some of the other mothers suggested before hand not to bring a fruit plate with mixed fruit as it could cause upset if there is not enough of each kind of fruit for each child. A watermelon can be cut up all the same size and was enough that each child gets a piece. From what I was told afterwards, it worked well, so I know what to do for next time.
This was the first time that I have had some involvement in a Montessori style birthday celebration. I had read about them in some of my Montessori books, but really didn’t know if my children’s school celebrated birthdays this way. Even though I was not able to be there in person for the celebration as it was for the kids, I was told what happened by my 4 year old, so I thought as a matter of interest to others I would write about what happened from her perspective. I have often wondered what they do for birthday celebrations in Montessori Schools around the world.
So, my 4 year old said that she helped set the tables outside on the deck for all the children. For birthday celebrations, each child gets a pink placemat and the birthday child gets a white placemat. My daughter said she could not understand why she was told to turn all of the plates upside down, until one of the class directors mentioned that Magpies (Australian birds) like to fly onto the table and stand on the plates with their dirty feet. My daughter found this very funny. Once every child in the class sat at the table, the director put a cut up piece of watermelon on each plate. The children need to wait until every child has a piece of fruit in front of them so they can all eat together. All part of practicing Grace and Courtesy.
My daughter said that after all the children had eaten their fruit and helped to wash up they all went and sat on the circle time mat. There was a table set up in the middle of the mat with a lit orange candle which represents the Sun, a globe which represents Earth and my daughters photo book. My daughter carried the globe (Earth) around the Sun (lit candle) four times representing the years of her life so far whilst the other children and teachers sang a special birthday song (The Earth Goes Around the Sun). At the end of the ceremony my daughter blew out the candle. Afterwards she shared photographs of herself at different ages with her class. The book we chose to donate to the class was also read to all of the children. Just beautiful.
Here are some photos of other Montessori birthday celebrations;