Monday, June 13, 2016

How To Make Birthdays Unique And Exciting

How To Make Birthdays Unique And Exciting by A Word On Third


Quick and AWESOME announcement: I am going to be interviewed in Teach Happy Membership for the THM Masterclass this week! I am going to be on Sheila Jane's online blab on Wednesday, June 15 at 7:30 PM EST. Be ready to talk Responsive Classroom! (Big surprise right?) If you're not a member of THM, you can join and watch my interview by clicking the button below. I hope to see some of you guys on there!!


OK! Now onto birthdays. I'm going to be honest with you--I got kind of sick of the birthday celebrations in my class. There were many reasons why, but some felt more important than others. It's not that I didn't like celebrating--I really do! However, I felt sad for the kids who were bothered that other kids would bring a snack for the class or goodie bags when they didn't have any. I didn't like that some parents wanted to come in and others didn't. I didn't like the inconsistency in my classroom when it came to birthdays and the potential negative feelings that could come from it. 

I thought long and hard about what I thought birthdays should be like in my classroom, and over time, I created a really nice birthday celebration that is fun, low-key, and a nice way of honoring the birthday girl or boy. I'm going to share them with you in hopes that you can start next year being consistent! You might consider talking about your birthday routine on Back To School Night so parents know what to expect.

Start the day with a little gift.
Now, I'm talking a really little gift. I used to get those birthday certificates for students, but I don't do that anymore. Nobody really cares about them anyway. Instead I print out a little picture of a cupcake that I found with a quick google image search. I also have some birthday stickers and pencils leftover from the last teacher who had my room. I'll run out of those soon and I'll probably just buy cheap pencils at the Dollar Tree or Target. This is what greets each student on his/her desk on the morning of his/her birthday.

How To Make Birthdays Unique And Exciting by A Word On Third

I like doing this because it's the first thing that child will see when they come into my room. It's nice to be recognized! It's not much, but it's enough to make a smile. 

I also have a prize box that the kids pick from on their birthdays. I don't use the prize box for anything other than birthdays (I'm a big believer in NO marble jars and prizes, but that's another post for another day). I put in extra Scholastic books from my Scholastic Reading Club order, little things I accumulate that I think would be fun (I once got some extra shark tooth fossils... into the birthday bin!), and cheap prizes from the dollar store. Many times these items are leftover from class parties or holiday goodie bags. 

Turn your morning message into a birthday card.
I think this is the coolest thing ever. My message usually says something like this:
Dear Team,
Today is X's birthday. We will celebrate him/her at meeting today. Sign your name below to wish him/her a Happy Birthday!  
(Here I draw a big box for kids to write. I'll sign my name and add a little birthday message too and kills will follow my lead.)
Love, Miss S. 
I always send my morning messages home at night, so on a child's birthday, that child gets to take home his/her morning message. We also send a class mascot home each night for fun (ours is a stuffed pig named Puddleton) and the kids write in Puddleton's journal. Believe it or not, my third graders really like doing this and haven't outgrown it yet. So, of course, the birthday boy or girl takes Puddleton home too.

Transform your morning meeting into a personalized birthday celebration.
The birthday kid picks the greeting we do. Then he/she shares about his/her birthday and we make comments/ask questions. At this point, we stop the meeting for an epic birthday song, and cha-cha-chas are a must. We dance around and sing and have a blast! Afterwards, the birthday kid picks the activity. My kids this year tend to love the activity called "Answer This."

To play Answer This, I ask the class a question, (often-times it's a birthday-themed question, like "What do you think Ethan will get for his birthday?") and they answer it as a class. The fun part is that the kids can only contribute one word for an answer. So kid A will say, "Ethan," kid B will say, "will," kid C will say "get," kid D will say, "a," and kid E will say, "puppy." We keep going around in a circle to make sure everyone answers at least once. These answers get SILLY. This isn't the only activity that gets played on birthdays, but we sure do seem to like this one this year. In fact, this year, the class decided that Ethan would "get a pair of stinky socks for his pet goat." Strange but fun. :)

After our activity, we read the message and we've had a nice, little intimate birthday celebration that feels more authentic than passing out goodie bags or anything else.

In the past, I've had birthday kids pick our read-alouds too. The big thing here is that it's important to be consistent and make each child feel like he/she belongs, is significant, and is having fun.

What do you like to do for birthdays? Do you think you'll try any of these? Comment below!

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