Tips for Managing and Celebrating Student Birthdays in the Classroom




TIPS FOR TEACHERS: BIRTHDAYS IN THE CLASSROOM

Include your birthday policy in your parent handbook or address it at open house. This may already be included in your school’s handbook. Consider how you will handle the following:
  • parents sending in treats
  • students passing out invitations/thank you cards for parties outside of school
  • discussions in school about parties that not all students were invited to
  • celebrating with food



Keep student birthdays noted in a central location so you do not forget them. I have a birthday template in my Teacher Organization Binder that shows all of the birthdays at a glance. I also record them on my monthly calendars. We have a display in the classroom. And I get notifications through Powerschool. I think I’m covered ;) Any one of the above would be fine.

Discuss the topic with your colleagues. If your school doesn’t have a specific school-wide policy in place, then work with your teammates to be consistent in how your celebrate.

Discourage parents from sending in food. Allergy concerns are the obvious. Cat hair in the cupcakes is the unspoken fear. If you do allow for editable birthday treats, I suggest making sure they are store-bought, prepackaged and individually-wrapped. You may also want to draft a general permission slip to be signed by each family allowing students to share in the eats.

Remember, teaching time is precious and oh-so-limited. Keep this in mind in planning how you’ll celebrate birthdays in your classroom. It may be best to keep it simple. 

Keep all children in mind. Not all students celebrate birthdays. If you have a student who doesn't celebrate you may want to discuss the situation with administration before proceeding with plans to celebrate other birthdays in the classroom. It should be a team decision.

Get to know the dynamics of your class before committing to a birthday tradition in your room. While the “Birthday Conga” may have been a fun celebration one year, the class make-up the following year could make it a disastrous idea. Remember, it’s hard to reel them back in after a conga line. ;) Some classes do best with a simple Happy Birthday and a smile. Know your crowd.

Birthdays are exciting to kids. And exciting equals motivating. Integrating birthdays into academics can make for fun learning experiences. Create bar graphs and line plots using birthday months. Have students write personal narratives about their birthday experiences or opinion writing pieces about their favorite cake flavor.

CREATE A BIRTHDAY DISPLAY:
Kids love their birthdays and love to see their names and pictures on a birthday display. Here's what I made for this school year.



{Click to access and download: Birthday Display Classroom Chart Packet}

I was originally going to just handwrite the students' names and birthdate onto the cards for month in which they were born. However, I have since decided that I will take a group photo of the students who share a birth month with each of them holding a card with a number showing the date of their birthday. The birthday display packet includes the numbered cards for a photo, three choices of titles, both colorful and ink-saving greyscale versions of the monthly cards, directions for assembly and cupcake accents.


IDEAS FOR CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS IN THE CLASSROOM:


  • Celebrate the half-birthday of students with summer birthdays.

  • Add a fun birthday song (You Say it’s Your Birthday by the Beatles, Celebration by Kool and the Gang, etc) to your morning soundtrack. Play that song on birthday days.

  • Have the birthday child lead a conga line while the class sings “Happy Birthday” (add ‘cha-cha-cha’ to the end of each line).


  • Obtain a collection of birthday-themed picture books. Place them into a birthday gift bag complete with tissue paper. Only take it out when a child is celebrating a birthday and let him read from it during Reader’s Workshop or silent reading time.

  • Use iron-on transfer sheets and a cheap, colorful t-shirt (usually $2-$4.00 at craft stores) to create an “It’s My Birthday.” Buy it in a size larger than your students would typically wear so it can be worn over their clothes. Be sure to take it home to wash it between wears.

  • Keep rolls of streamers on hand. Use it to decorate the birthday child’s chair or locker.

  • Place a sign on your classroom door reading, “We’re Celebrating ____’s Birthday.”


  • Put together a packet of fun birthday-themed activities (word search, coloring page, mazes, etc). Allow the birthday child to work on the activities in the packet instead of one of the regular classroom assignments for that day.


  • Provide the birthday child with a special birthday pencil to use in class that day.

  • Buy a couple packages of birthday-themed bulletin board border from the teacher store. These borders make cute birthday “crowns.”
The final tip comes with a FREEBIE:
{Click to access and download: Birthday Class Book FREEBIE}


  • During journal writing or writer’s workshop, have the students write a letter to the birthday child. Have them write specific details so the letter doesn’t just read, “You are Funny. You are Awesome.” Gather the completed entries and present it to the child from his classmates as a special keepsake. Make this even more personalized and special by snapping a photo of each student wearing a party hat or blowing a party horn. Print one copy of each student for each of their classmates and use them as special stationary for the birthday book. A quicker and easier alternative would be to take a class picture at the start of the year with party hats and blowers. You can then print a class set and use them to make cards that everyone in class signs. If you do this be sure to give one to the principal, nurse, secretary, and specialists on their birthdays as well.


Birthday-Themed Books 
{click on any of the covers to read descriptions on my Amazon page}:



For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom
 please check out my Clutter-Free Guide along with my Teaching Procedures and Routines Workbook
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