Birthdays in the Montessori classroom are a time to emphasize a child’s growth since birth and her role in the greater universe. The celebration is a fun way to introduce the concepts of time, such as the year, the month, and the day, as well as the earth, the sun, and how the earth revolves around the sun.
Birthdays are celebrated in the following way in our Montessori classroom:
1) The birthday child carries a globe (the earth) around a candle, which symbolizes the sun, one time for each year of the child’s life. For example, if the child is turning 3, the child will walk around the candle three times. The walk represents the earth revolving around the sun, and the child begins walking from the month and date she was born.
2) After each revolution, special events in the life of the child are shared by her parents and teacher. For example, after the first revolution, the parents share fun memories of their child at age one. Sometimes parents supply a poster with the child’s photographs or show special mementos, like a stuffed toy or blanket with sentimental value. Sometimes if the parent is not able to attend, the teacher reads about special memories, supplied by the parent.
3) Finally, parents send a delicious treat to share with the child’s class. Some examples include cookies, cheese and crackers, muffins, or small cupcakes without icing.
By participating in these celebrations, children learn the importance of rituals in our lives as well as their role in the larger cosmos. Indeed, our little ones can be the “center of the universe”.