Activities and Games, Article, Lesson Plans

What special things do you do to celebrate your students’ birthdays

  • Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

On the first day of school, I have each child write down or draw the name of his or her favorite candy bar. On their birthdays (or half birthdays), I give the children the candy bar they chose, a "Happy Birthday pencil," and a sticker. The child can enjoy the candy bar any time during the day.

Cathy Bearden, Mountain Brook, AL

My students get to be the teacher in certain subjects. Language and math are their favorite subjects to teach. Not only do they love this, but it also gives them a little insight into what it's like on the other side.

Leah Ochs, Quinter, KS

We read the "magic" version of "On the Day You Were Born," which is to say we substitute the birthday kid's name for you throughout the story. Then we have the child carry a globe around the "sun" (a yellow ball making a revolution for each year of his or her life. The traditional treats and the singing of "Happy Birthday" to follow.

Tracy, Vernon, NJ

I write a birthday greeting on the front of an inexpensive white T-shirt, using permanent markers. The whole class adds a personal greeting on the back. The birthday student wears his/her shirt throughout the day, and takes it home afterward.

Wendy Kellogg, El Cajon, CA

At the beginning of the year I give a paper cake to all my students and they write their names and birthdays on the front. On the back they write down their favorite candy bar. On their birthdays, I give them their candy bars.

Shelby, Clinton, TN

In our class, the birthday girl or boy is our baker for the day. He or she chooses a friend to be the baker's helper. Together they are responsible for making, baking, and decorating their birthday cake. At the end of the day, the cake is divided evenly among all class members. This is a wonderful learning activity as it involves language arts (reading, following directions) math (measurement, temperature, fractions), and art (cake decorating). We are very fortunate in our school to have small ovens that can be wheeled into the classroom.

Annette Campana, Princeton, NJ

My primary students sit in a special birthday desk that is painted in rainbow colors and decorated with Happy Birthday greetings. They also get to choose one item from the birthday bag.

Tracey Forrest, Boularderie, N.S., Canada

We eat chocolate cake.

Jeanie, Brooklyn, NY

In my fifth-grade classroom, each birthday child brings in his or her favorite book to share. Instead of my reading out loud at the normal time, the birthday student selects a part of the text to share with the class.

Kathy Schultz, Darien, CT

I remember how special I felt when my mom sent treats for the class on my birthday. Since very few of the children bring treats on their birthdays, I bake a cake for each child. We celebrate half-birthdays for those with summer dates. We all sing "Happy Birthday." I also prepare little birthday goody bags with items I find on sale during the year, such as pencils, erasers, and stickers.

Christine Bergers, Pullman, MI

I purchased a computer program called Birthday Fun Facts. After typing in the name and birth date of the student, it prints out information on celebrities that share that birthday; highlights in entertainment, sports, and news for the year; zodiac information; how may days old the person is, etc. I print the information on paper with a birthday border, and present it to the student on their birthday along with a birthday pencil. The children look forward to learning about the world in the year that they were born.

Zee Ann Poerio, Pittsburgh, PA

I have a birthday box. On a child's birthday, he or she gets to wear a crown and choose a gift bag from the birthday bag. There is always the problem of the summer birthdays. I usually celebrate all of the summer birthdays in June so no children are left out. Each child looks forward to choosing a birthday bag!

Amy Stoffer, Rochester, NY

 teach fourth grade in a low-income district, and it is very rare that students bring their own treat for their birthday. Therefore, I always have a few packages of cookies or other treat on hand for every birthday. The students feel proud passing out their goodies to the other members in the class and the other teachers in the school. I have a birthday pencil that I give to every student, we sing "Happy Birthday!" and I write their names on the board for the day as well. Last year I brought in a cake at the end of the year to celebrate summer birthdays. I believe in making each child a "star" for at least one day a year.

Lori Court-Bantel, Swoyersville, PA

I send the student a birthday card in the mail. At school I give the child a soup can that I have spray painted and decorated with stencils. I fill the can with goodies and put it inside a small transparent gift bag and tie it with a helium balloon. When the child comes to school it's sitting on his or her desk and the child is as excited as can be!

Tangerine Hart, Roseland, LA

On my students' birthdays, they get to be the Birthday King or Queen. The class sings "Happy Birthday" to the student while I give him or her a certificate, pencil, and paper crown. The birthday King or Queen gets to be the line leader for the day, and at the end of our class, gets to choose something from the treasure chest.

Mendi Verley, Kansas City, KS

I teach seventh grade English in upstate New York and I think that my students are the world! For their birthdays I give out computer made cards that say: "It's your birthday and we think you're the tops, redeem this for one of our tootsie roll pops!"

Katyanna Carll, Berne, NY

On one day each month the birthday students of the month, get to bring their lunch into the classroom for a special picnic. For the summer birthdays kids, I pick a slow month during the school year in which there are fewer birthdays, and they join in. Birthdays are also announced every morning at announcements by the principal.

D. Phillips, Paoli, IN

In our kindergarten, the birthday child gets to put the words to the Happy Birthday song in any order he or she chooses using the pocket chart. We then sing this mixed-up birthday song. I got this idea from a first-grade teacher in Brighton, MI. Later, we make a circle and the birthday child stands in the middle. He or she chooses 6 children to be the candles, and these children form a closer circle around the birthday child. The rest of the children on the outer circle are the cake. We sing the Happy Birthday song with the words in order this time. The birthday child claps to "put out" the candles, and each "candle" squats down as we count out the age of the birthday child. A teacher in our building shared this idea with me and the children love it!

Wendy Brunson, Evansville, IN

I make each student's birthday special by letting him or her start the day with a free homework pass, a new pencil, a bookmark, and a Blow-pop sucker.

Evelyn Greenwood, Brazil, IN

We have a surprise party during lunch time. A team of students prepares a special birthday song for the birthday girl or boy. The class prepares a special card and a homemade present. We take a photograph of the birthday child to put on our bulletin board and to upload them to our school Web site.

Rebecca Ng, Hong Kong

I am teaching 4th- and 5th-grade ESL this year. With two grades I need birthday items to be inexpensive. This year I'm giving each child a cool birthday pencil, a car, a candy bar. They also get to wear the "Birthday Crown. " We sing the Happy Birthday song, give hugs, and share memories of the birthday child throughout the day. It seems to work.

Betty Rice, Glendale, AZ

To help make my students' birthdays special, I donate a book to our classroom library in honor of the birthday kid! I first print a bookplate to be placed in the front of the book. It includes the following text and a colorful graphic: "This book has been placed in the sixth grade classroom library in honor of: (student's name) on (birthdate)." It has been fun for brothers and sisters, years later, to enjoy reading their sibling's book!

Annette, Peabody, KS

I print out calendars off Sierra Printartist for the months of August through May. Then, I place each student's birthday or 1/2 birthday on the calendar. This makes for a bulletin board that stays up all year. Then, I remember to write "Happy Birthday Alicia!" or "Happy 1/2 Birthday Jordan!" on the board on that day. If it falls on the weekend, I remember to put it up the Friday before. My students love being recognized that way. They also remind me if I happen to forget.

Ranea Schulze, Nevada, MO

I take my students out to lunch. We are overseas so Burger King seems to be the #1 choice. They like being seen with the teacher out of school. The ones that have birthdays in the summer or on holidays get treated before the school year lets out. It seems to work really well.

Melissa Still, Hohenfels, Germany

First, to organize the birth dates of the students, I photograph each child on the first day of school. We organize the pictures sequentially by month and day into a "bar graph" located on a central wall. Using this graph, I know when to prepare for individual birthdays. Then, when the big day comes, I scan the child's picture and prepare a special, biographic PowerPoint slide to be displayed on the electronic blackboard as they enter. Also awaiting the birthday child at his or her assigned seat is a preprinted card with a special handwritten message, a birthday sticker, and balloon. Finally, each child gets a pencil to take home.

Emily Beard, Memphis, TN

  • Subjects:
    Birthdays, Teacher Tips and Strategies
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