Happy Birthday to Us!
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
A birthday is a special day to celebrate US! For a six-year-old turning seven, it is probably the most wonderful day of the year. This lesson helps first graders learn about the date of their birth and continues to lay the framework for working with class graphs.
- Listen to the selected story for information
- Record information about differences between fiction and nonfiction books
- Record information to contribute to the class graph
- Sort birthday words by number of letters, syllables, beginning sounds, etc.
- Happy Birthday by Gail Gibbons
- Pictures of two birthday cakes to color (Download the PDF I have provided, or use any birthday cake coloring picture you have. I recommend reducing it so that two cakes fit on one page)
- Pencils, glue, tape, crayons, markers, colored pencils
- Chart paper
- Index cards
Set Up and Prepare
Have book, index cards, chart paper, markers and copied birthday cake coloring picture ready to use.
Step 1: Start a discussion with students about the difference between fiction and nonfiction books. Begin a list about what students already know about these two types of literary genre. Tell students that the story we are about to read is a nonfiction or informational book and that you want them to notice some of the things about this book that are different from fiction stories they've read.
Step 2: Read Happy Birthday! by Gail Gibbons. Stop at the part when they begin to share information about each birthday month (colors, flowers etc.), you will read this in the next lesson.
Step 3: After the story, lead a discussion and add to the chart that was started before by listing any new characteristics of fiction and nonfiction books that the students discuss.
Step 4: Have students think-pair-share some new information they learned from the book.
Step 5: Brainstorm and write a list of words that fall under the theme of birthdays (cake, ice-cream, presents, music, dancing, piñata, moonwalk etc.)
Step 6: Have students help you spell each word (pointing out endings (-ing, -s) and blends, etc.)
Step 7: Let each student chose a birthday word to illustrate on an index card. They are to write the word clearly and carefully across the bottom of the card with a black marker and illustrate a corresponding picture above the word.
Step 8: Once students come back to the community area, share each student's work with the class.
Step 9: Have students sort cards by a given category or for more of a challenge have several cards that are already sorted, and ask students to guess how they are sorted or you can place flashcards in a pocket chart or on the floor and let students figure out ways to sort them.
Sorting Ideas: initial sound, ending sound, vowel sounds, number of vowels, long and short vowels, vowel patterns, number of letters, letter that occurs anywhere, letter that falls at the beginning, middle or end of a word, blends or digraphs.
Step 10: Students will color two birthday cakes and write their name and birthday on each. One will be used for a birthday graph "Happy Birthday To Us!" and the other for a class birthday book in the next lesson.
Supporting All Learners
All students are able to participate in creating birthday sorting cards for the sorting activity. These cards will be added to a literacy work station for students to work with a partner to sort cards on their own and then they will be added to our social studies word wall. The original list of birthday words we wrote will be reviewed several times with the class, using these words in oral sentences and in writers' workshop as well as being available to read during students "Read Around the Room" literacy work station time.
From the first day of school, make sure you have student's names and birthdays displayed prominently for reference of their birthday and the months of the year. Since the first day of school be sure your students have been singing different months of the year songs, so they are on their way to becoming more familiar with the names, sequence, and spelling of each month.
I also have students write about birthday topics throughout the week during writers' workshop.
- On my birthday, I love to...
- The best birthday gift would be...
- For my perfect birthday party, I would go to...
- If my family forgot my birthday, I would...
- The best thing about birthdays...
- I've been to a birthday party at...
- This is how you make a cake...
- I love having my birthday during the school year / in the summer / by a holiday because...
Students can work with a parent or sibling to see if they can find a coin that was minted the same year that they were born.
Students are asked to bring the coin that matched the year they were born to share with the class. Discuss how many of the years are the same and why that is. Compare the year students were born to other important years on a timeline.
This home connection ties in factual information about the history of birthdays to students own birthday celebrations.
This is a great lesson for introducing the characteristics of fiction and nonfiction books and I use this opportunity to assess student's knowledge of fiction and nonfiction when we read in guided reading groups. (Note: This is the first nonfiction book I read in the school year, so from then on, I always note if the subsequent books we read are fiction or nonfiction.)
There are many wonderful birthday stories to help enrich this lesson. You can read them during your read aloud time and add them to your classroom library.