Activities and Games, Article
Fun Ways of Celebrating Birthdays
Do you have a low-cost, fair, and fun way of celebrating birthdays?
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
I teach at a private school, and the two fourth-grade classes have a "Birthday Club" as a fundraiser for their annual field trip. Flyers are sent out at the beginning of the year offering two options for parents: $8.00 for cupcakes, punch, cups, and napkins, or $10.00 for the above, plus a special pencil and 3 helium balloons. The parents take turns baking the cupcakes, and everything is left in the lounge. Parents like the convenience, while teachers like the flexibility and being able to decide the best time to celebrate the student's birthday in the classroom. In my own classroom, I also always give each child a special pencil and certificate. And since we have a uniform policy, our handbook states an exemption clause for all students on or near their birthdays.
I have a small class and most of my students are from low-income homes, so on students'birthdays, I provide a small treat for the class. Then the journal assignment for the day is to write at least three things they like best about the birthday child. We combine the lists to create a web on the board, which stays there all day as a reminder of how special and valued the birthday child is.
I purchased a set of blank crowns from www.reallygoodstuff.com On their birthdays, students can decorate crowns using various art materials and fancy markers to write their names. Then they can wear the crowns throughout the day. At the end of the day, the student shares his or her crown with the class and the meaning behind its decorations. The students really love doing this.
I purchased a gross of pencils that say, "Happy Birthday from your teacher." Each child receives one on his or her birthday plus a sticker to wear. I leave it up to the parents to decide whether a treat should be brought in. For my summer birthday kids I plan a traditional party so that we can celebrate all of them at once. I divide the cost of party items among the summer kids to share the expense. Since I also have a summer birthday, I supply the cake, cupcakes, or donuts. The other children bring ice cream cups, hats, horns, plates, napkins, juice and cups, and party bags.
We sing "Happy Birthday" in a really fun way. We yell, "Cha cha cha!" after every line and do a conga line behind the birthday student around the room. I give the birthday student (who, for the day, goes by "king" or "queen") one free homework pass on a subject of their choice. The student also is allowed to grab a handful from the birthday box (a box of small candies and stickers provided by parents). They love it and that way, students with busy parents never seem neglected.
I use my Bonus Points from our Lucky Book Club orders to accumulate a selection of books. Then, when a student has a birthday, he or she is allowed to select a book to "donate" to our classroom library. I place a bookplate in the front of the book with the student's name and birth date. The student gets to take the book home on his or her birthday for the "first read" and then it is placed in the library.
My students are allowed to bring in a toy to share. Others make their own place mats, and parents provide the food, drink, plates, utensils, etc. I encourage the celebration of a birthday, I do not plan my entire day around it.
My class enjoys the recognition that a balloon brings. I cut a tiger paw out of poster board, then cut an x in the middle. I blow up a balloon and tie a knot, then pull the knot through the x. I write Happy Birthday on both sides of the balloon. The student then takes it to display on his or her desk so that everyone that enters the room knows it is a special day for that child. The student then can choose whether to take it home or keep the balloon on his or desk. For summer birthdays, I let students pick any day during the year to celebrate with a balloon.
For every students'birthday I write his or her name on the "birthday board." I also write out a certificate and present it along with a birthday pencil. Then, I present a birthday book for each student. This is at no cost to me, because I use the points I earned from class book orders! The children love to see what book the others receive, and when they finish, they exchange books with each other!
I celebrate with homework passes and a "very special pencil." The homework pass can only be used for daily assignments, not the "big stuff" like book reports.
I celebrate with a "Read aloud On The Day You Were Born." I also have everyone sign a giant card, and give out small treats such as candy and pencils.