One special Montessori tradition is the celebration of a child’s birthday. Called “The Celebration of Life,” it involves the child standing in the middle of a circle with all of the children seated around him or her. In the center of the circle is a paper cut-out of a sun, a candle, and the 12 months of the year.
Displayed prominently is a poster board with pictures of the child at each age and the child’s life story. The child’s parents can also provide snacks. We ask families to provide nutritious treats such as fruit trays, cheese and whole wheat muffins. We like to take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of healthy food choices!
As an expectant hush settles over the room, the teacher begins: “On [child’s birthday and time of birth], [child’s name] was born to loving parents and two older siblings, all of whom were very excited for [child’s name] big arrival.” The candle in the sun is lit, and the child, holding a globe, gets ready to walk around the sun. The teacher continues telling about the child’s first year on earth. Then all the children sing, “A trip around the sun, A trip around the sun, every year we get to make a trip around the sun.” Says the teacher, “Now [child’s name] is one year old!” The teacher proceeds to tell stories from this year and to hold up or point to the pictures on the board. This continues until the child’s present age. The child can then blow out the candle to make a wish, and treats are enjoyed.
This is such a special event for each child. Like everything in a Montessori environment it is very purposeful with lots of real life education intertwined in every step.