Having one’s birthday at school is always a fun occasion, but it can even become more special when done the Montessori way. This is because it combines learning with celebrating a milestone. How exactly are birthdays observed the Montessori way?
Having a birthday the Montessori way involves celebrating a child’s life and the various milestones they have passed. This is done through a ceremony called the ‘Celebration of Life’ wherein the child re-enacts their years on earth through a birthday walk around the sun, with classmates singing the Montessori birthday song. This is followed by a show and tell of photos of significant events that have occurred from the child’s birth to their current age, to show the progress the child has made through the years.
Read on to learn more about celebrating birthdays the Montessori way!
The Montessori Birthday Celebration of Life
The Montessori Birthday is also known as a Celebration of Life and has two major components:
- The Birthday Walk, and
- The Birthday Song.
The Celebration of Life includes both counting and recounting the number of years the birthday celebrant has lived. The counting is done through the Montessori birthday walk, while recounting is done through the show and tell about the child’s life after the walk.
While there are variations in the execution, the Montessori child usually goes around in a circle around “the sun” to demonstrate how the earth’s revolution around the giant star marks one year. As is typical of the Montessori approach, practical yet interesting methods are used to teach children about what their age actually means. This exercise, known more commonly as the birthday walk, teaches students the concept of time (through months and seasons) as well as the basics of astronomy, more particularly the solar system.
Celebration of Life Set Up
Instead of just explaining the concept of aging in an abstract way, having children go around the makeshift sun gives them a concrete representation of how a year goes by. In the Montessori classroom, birthdays involve all children sharing in the occasion.
The classroom is set up with a mat in the middle with a portrayal of the sun, usually a candle, another light source, or a picture of the sun. Around the sun are strips of paper with the months of the year printed on each one. In other versions, instead of months, seasons of the year are indicated around the ‘sun’. Another essential item for the celebration is a globe, which the birthday child carries during the birthday walk.
What is the Montessori Birthday Walk?
The Montessori Birthday Walk is a celebration of the child’s life. Carrying a globe to signify Earth, the birthday child goes around the sun as many times as their age, while the rest of the class children sit around in the circle. The walk begins with the child starting beside the month of their birth and continues around the months until they reach their birthday month once again. During this birthday walk, the children sing the Montessori birthday song that goes as follows:
The Montessori Birthday Song
While there are variations in the lyrics of the Montessori birthday song, these are the most common words used:
The earth goes around the sun
The earth goes around the sun
The earth goes around the sun
And now you (or the child’s name) are (one!)
This verse is sung as many times as the child goes around the sun with the last word changing to reflect the increasing number of years the child has lived. The lyrics demonstrate how Montessori teaching reiterates the lessons through practical methods such as singing a birthday song while explaining the earth’s revolution around the sun.
As the birthday walk is usually done in Montessori school, parents and other family members are sometimes invited to attend and join in the celebration. After the birthday walk, the teacher, parent, or the child themselves (depending on the age) will show photos of the child at various ages, and share some information about the photo and the child at that age.
This presentation of the child’s milestones at various stages of their life is a practical way to teach children the progression from infancy through childhood. Children enjoy reliving these memories and seeing special moments in their life with their loved ones. At the same time, classmates learn more about the birthday child and their life outside of school.
A Special Way to Celebrate
While the Montessori Celebration of Life and Birthday Walk are usually introduced and done in the Montessori school setting, it can be a fun and unique addition to any birthday celebration. If the child’s birthday falls out of the school year, a makeshift Montessori birthday setup can be fashioned and set up wherever the birthday party takes place.
This special Montessori way of celebrating is a great way to introduce the Montessori approach to family and friends who are not familiar with the learning method and lifestyle.
Montessori Birthday Variations
In variations of the Celebration of Life, with each walk around the sun, the teacher talks about milestones a child of that age would go through, to highlight the changes that happen from infancy through the early stages of childhood. For example, the teacher can state what a baby’s life is and what they can do during the first year of life, before the birthday child begins their walk. The explanation continues with each year of the child’s life to show the progress the child has made throughout his years.
Lyrics of the Montessori birthday song may also be adjusted by the teachers to personalize the song to the birthday child or to a specific part of the birthday celebration they would like to teach or emphasize.
The Montessori birthday celebration is an exciting way for children to learn about the various facets of having a birthday – the time that passes, the milestones they have achieved, the meaning of a birthday year, their place in their family, and earth’s rotation and revolution around the sun. With minimal materials needed, it adds a different flavor to birthday parties and a fun activity for the birthday child and their guests.