Celebration of Life - Toddler Style
The first time I saw a Montessori birthday celebration was in the Primary environment at our school many moons ago. I immediately fell in love with the idea. I loved the simplicity of it, along with the introduction to a bit of science and history. I witnessed several birthday celebrations while working and taking my Montessori training.
What is a Montessori birthday celebration? Each school has its own way and idea of it, but the toddler room in our school basically it goes like this; I light a candle, representing the sun, in the middle of the room, place labels in shapes of clouds with each month of the year in a circle radiating out from the “sun,” and mark the birth month of the child with a butterfly. The children and guides sit in a wide circle around the sun and months of the year, while the birthday child stands or sits next to the month of his or her birth holding a stuff animal of their choice. The child then walks around the sun one time for each year of his or her life. As the child walks, I light a candle on a table for each year the child is old, providing a visual representation of their new age. When the child has finished walking around the candle and all the candles are lit we share pictures of the child. The parents are able to bring pictures of each child year and pictures of family members. I talk about how tiny our friends were, what they are doing in each picture and how much they have grown since each picture was snapped. Then I invite the birthday child to talk about the people in her life: mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, even pets. When we have finished sharing pictures the children sing “Happy Birthday” to their friend and I give the child a hug. At the end the all children may blow out the candle that represents the sun and the “birthday kid” blows out the candles on the table.
It really is a lovely ceremony.