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Monday, November 30, 2009

Planning for birthdays in your preschool classroom

Birthdays are a big deal to preschool age children and it is a good idea to come up with a plan as to how you will celebrate each child's birthday in your classroom. The following are a few ideas or suggestions that can help you get prepared so you are not caught by surprise or having to throw things together at the last minute.

Birthday Organizer Box
Get a file box and a set of pocket file folders. Place each child's name on a folder along with his or her birthdate. Place the files in the box in order of birth date - you might even place a separater in between files to identify each month.

Parent Letter
Place an extra file in the front of your file box for parent letters. Type up and copy a set of letters that will go home with each child a week or two before his or her birthday reminding the parent of what the rules of your school are regarding snacks, the time you will have a birthday celebration, and any other issues or rules you find necessary to communicate with parents about having a birthday party in your classroom.


In advance, fill each pocket folder with the following items...
  1. A birthday card or certificate
  2. A birthday crown
  3. A birthday name tag
  4. A balloon and ribbon
  5. Or any other item you like to use on birthdays!
Most of the items mentioned above can be made by you or purchased at a school supply store.


Keep it simple
Keeping the birthday party plans simple in design will allow you to bring special attention to the child without adding unneeded stress to your day. Preschoolers love the attention but overdoing things can sometimes backfire and leave the birthday boy or girl in tears. By keeping birthday party plans simple and the same for each child, the preschooler will know what to expect and will have a better experience.

Tags and Crowns
Let the child wear the birthday tag throughout the day and encourage other adults in the school to stop and wish the child a happy birthday when they see the birthday sticker. This will help the child feel a part of a community and the parent will appreciate it too. Save the crown for the actual birthday party so it doesn't get ruined before it is time.

Timing
Thirty minutes towards the latter part of your classroom day is often considered best - consider having the birthday party as a part of afternoon snack. This may encourage parents to leave work a bit early and be able to join in the occasion. Regardless of whether or not parents can come, the child will enjoy the event because the he or she will know what to expect.

Sing Happy Birthday!
Sing the traditional birthday song or create a song just for birthday occasions and teach it to your students.

Birthday Prizes
Finally, a great way to collect birthday prizes without spending lots of money is to have parents donate unopened happy meal toys. Parents often end up with extras toys their child never opened and as you collect them, wrap each one up with birthday wrapping paper or tissue paper. 


Put the "boy toys" in a boy birthday bag and the "girl toys" in a girl birthday bag. As part of the celebration, allow the birthday child to pick a toy from one of the bags and open the gift. It won't matter to most preschoolers what the prize ends up being - what matters most is the opportunity to pick a prize and open it up.



Add wrapped prizes to the bags throughout the school year and you will have plenty to go around!

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5 comments:

Teacher Tom said...

We keep our birthday celebrations pretty simple. The kids, working with their parents, bring in what we call an "I Am Special Board," which is usually a posterboard upon which the kids have glued some photos. We have a paper mache throne that was made by a group of kids several years ago that the celebrant gets to sit in as we go through the photos in front of the class.

Since we have a two year program, there is strong "institutional memory" about what we do from year to year. At this point, we can't get away with just singing the Happy Birthday song. Most of the kids also want the "monkey version" (yes, they seem to think it's cool to smell like a monkey), and the "short version" (This is your birthday song/It isn't very long/Hey!).

Deborah J. Stewart said...

I love the monkey version:) That is so funny that they all like to sing it. I haven't heard of the short version - that is really cute too!

Anonymous said...

Very nice! I have used a "Birthday Bag" for a while now filled with birthday items. We also decorate the child's cubby for when they come in. (streamers and a sign)....I like the "I am special board" idea for something different.

Vanessa said...

Birthdays are so important to young children, I love celebrating birthdays in the classroom! Here are all the things I did in my classroom for student birthdays:
http://www.pre-kpages.com/birthday.html

-vanessa

Deborah J. Stewart said...

Hey Vanessa - I love the link you provided - especially the birthday bag/charts - such a cute idea and great resources for teachers.

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