Whether you’re planning a bash for an April or August birthday, here are 11 ways to host a memorable classroom birthday celebration.
1. Build-Your-Own Birthday Treats. Marissa Akason, first grade teacher in Chicago, suggests bringing in ingredients for a recipe that the kids can make at their desks. In kindergarten and first grade, following a simple recipe helps kids learn sequencing, processes, and following directions. Some suggestions: create pudding dirt cups with gummy worms and cookie crumbles, make a monster mouth, or dish up a stop light snack. (Before bringing in any food, make sure you know about any allergies in your child’s class.)
2. Watch a Birthday Video. Bring in the DVD of your child’s favorite storybook, or a video that connects with what the class is studying. For example, a Green Eggs and Ham storybook video if the class is studying Dr. Seuss. Pass out popcorn and juice for kids to share as they watch.
3. Host a Game Day. Bring in your child’s favorite reading or math game for the class to play. If the game that is best for small groups, plan to share the game during a scheduled math or reading “center time.”
4. Give a Gift. Let your child choose a gift for her class. It could be a book for the library, a word game for center time, or a toy for the pretend play area. Akason suggests choosing a book for your child’s favorite section of the classroom library, and inscribing a birthday message inside the cover.
5. Throw a Book Party. Read your child’s favorite book and bring in a related activity or treat. If your child loves the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, read Are You Ready to Play Outside, then head to the playground with a box of sidewalk chalk.
6. Write a Birthday Story. Bring in a blank book and have the class create a story about your child’s birthday, including themselves as characters. Your child will get a memento of her school year, and the class will enjoy the process of seeing themselves written into a story. As you write, however, make sure that every child makes it onto a page. Use a story like Miss Bindergarten by Joseph Slate or Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin for ideas on including a lot of characters in a few pages.
7. Birthday Math. If your child loves math, work with her teacher to incorporate a birthday theme into math. Bring in birthday manipulatives to use in an addition or subtraction lesson (candles to add to a birthday cake, or mini cupcakes to “subtract”). Or, write a page of birthday-themed word problems that include the names of your child and his classmates.
8. Oh Goody Grab Bags. Instead of cupcakes, pack goody bags with pencils, erasers, and other treats. The kids love fun school supplies, says Akason, and it’s helpful for teachers who often have to restock materials mid-year.
9. Collect Autographs. On your child’s birthday, bring in a white t-shirt and fabric paint or markers. Have each child sign the t-shirt with their name and a birthday wish. This can also be done with a white pillowcase or the cover of a notebook.
10. Plan an End-of-Year Birthday Bonanza. If your kid’s birthday is during summer break, connect with other parents of kids who have birthdays during school vacations to plan a celebration during the last week of school. If you’re celebrating summer birthdays, encourage the kids to reflect on their year and make predictions about who they’ll be when they come back in the fall. Bring in mini-notebooks and have the kids exchange autographs and summer or birthday wishes.
11. Throw a Season Mix-Up Party. If your child’s birthday is in summer, bring summer to school in the middle of winter. Plan activities that compare winter and summer, and celebrate with summer activities (color cards with a summer theme, eat popsicles or ice cream, drink lemonade).
Whatever the number of birthday candles on your child’s cake, a little planning goes a long way to creating a classroom celebration he’ll remember for years to come!