Among all the notions that we try to transmit to children, if there is one that can take years to develop, it is that of time. In Montessori pedagogy, the birthday ceremony will help the little ones to integrate the notion of months and years. With a few candles, a line on the ground and photos, we will concretely show the child how the movement of the Earth and the Sun helps us structure the time that passes over the course of a year. Corn what is the Montessori birthday ceremony exactly ? What is the process and from what age can we lead it? If your child is about to blow out candles and you want to celebrate your birthday Montessori style, this article is for you.
The Montessori birthday ceremony: purpose and main principles
Purpose of a Montessori birthday ceremony
the purpose of a Montessori birthday ceremony is above all to celebrate the birth of a child. As with any birthday party, we can offer a cake, candles to blow out and gifts. But it is also the occasion to make the youngest understand how time flies and what it means in concrete terms to celebrate your 4, 5 or 6 years, for example.
Principles of celebration
The principle of the celebration ofMontessori style birthday Is simple. In the center of an ellipse drawn on the ground, we will place a candle which represents the sun. All around the “Sun”, along the ellipse, we will also have placed small labels representing the 12 months of the year. The child will have in his hands a balloon or a globe that represents the Earth and he will be asked to walk along this ellipse. Each complete turn made by the child represents a passing year and we will therefore light a candle gradually to represent an elapsed year. If the child turns 5, he will do 5 turns, at the end of which he will blow out his 5 candles.
In addition toapproach the movement of the Earth around the Sun, the principle is to focus on the child by showing him what has happened to him during these years. The adults and loved ones present during the ceremony will have a mission as the child walks: to show photos of him or her growing up and to tell stories about him. For example, we can indicate when the child has said his first words. The idea is to make people understand that everything has been done gradually, over time.
The Montessori anniversary ceremony
Preparation of the ceremony and explanations given to the child
the a Montessori birthday ceremony is still the same. Naturally, the more the child grows, the more the ceremony lasts, because we materialize the number of years since its birth.
As the child takes on the role of Earth during the celebration, he walks along an ellipse, spinning around with a globe in his hands. We explain to him of course that this globe represents the Earth, where we all live, and we add that this journey is the one made by our planet for a year. The goal is especially that it integrates the fact that the Earth turns on itself in addition to turning around the Sun, but of course, one will not ask him to reproduce the 365 turns on itself!
We also explain to the child that the Sun is a big ball of fire which allows to have light and heat for life on Earth. This is why we often use a large candle to symbolize it. All around the ellipse, we finally prepare 12 labels with the names of the months of the year.
Complete sequence of a Montessori birthday ceremony
Once everything is prepared and explained to the child, here is how the Montessori birthday ceremony takes place:
- We light the big central candle (the Sun);
- The child is shown where his birthday month is on the ellipse and asked to position himself in front of it. While he is standing, he is told that at that time he was expected to be born. She can then be shown ultrasounds and photos of the pregnant mother if desired.
- The child then begins to walk slowly, spinning around with the globe in his hands. During this time, relatives tell anecdotes about the main stages of his life (first steps, first lost tooth, etc.), illustrating if possible with photos or objects.
- At each passage in front of the month of birth, we light a small candle to symbolize a past year and we say to the child “The Earth has revolved around the Sun for 12 months, a year has passed, you were N years old”.
- At the end, the child blows out all the candles placed in front of his birth month and he is sung his birthday song.
In Montessori pedagogy, a song accompanies the anniversary ceremony.
Preparation of materials for the Montessori birthday ceremony
In traditional Montessori pedagogy, we promote as much as possible the use of real everyday objects and natural materials, including the use of real candles. However, if there is a lack of space or if you fear accidents with the youngest, other options are possible.
Install an ellipse on the ground
The ellipse is used in the classes of Montessori schools to materialize the place of regrouping and it is also used during activities related to motor skills. However, if you wish organize a Montessori birthday ceremony at home with little space and you don’t need it on a daily basis, you can create an ephemeral arrangement.
To install a temporary ellipse on the ground, you have 3 possibilities:
- outdoors, you can simply draw it with a large chalk;
- indoors, materialize it with thick adhesive tape;
- if you prefer to opt for a reusable material, use a cord with weights so that it does not move, or simply a rounded rug or tablecloth.
If we follow the original prescriptions, to represent the fireball that is the Sun, we use a large wax candle. However, if you want to avoid any risk of accident, an LED candle might as well do the trick, as long as it’s not tiny.
As for the candles that are lit at each turn made by the child on the ellipse, traditionally, we rather use tealight candles, able to last throughout the ceremony without going out. But like the Sun, you can definitely use LED equivalents.
Materialize the Earth
To symbolize the Earth, it is best to use the montessori globe present in geography material. But if you don’t have one, avoid the standard globes used in a traditional classroom. Their diameter is often quite large and their weight can make them difficult to handle by young children. Think in this case of terrestrial globes in the form of inflatable balloons, they have the advantage of being light and easy to store. They can be found on the Internet or in bazaars for a few euros.
Celebration of a Montessori-style birthday from 3 years old
The celebration of a Montessori-style birthday is generally organized from the age of 3. Depending on the age and motor skills of the child, we can consider either carrying it if it is toddler or holding his hand to guide him on the ellipse. Up to 3 years, the faculty of concentration being quite small, it is useless to program a ceremony too long, with many photos and anecdotes to tell. Plan 3 or 4 highlights to tell and a dozen photos in all. In order for the child to enjoy this ceremony, allow it to last between 3 and 5 minutes.
In Montessori pedagogy, the birthday ceremony is usually scheduled for the entire age group 3-6 years, but we can obviously continue it beyond, as long as the child appreciates it.
And you, are you seduced by this way of marking the age of the child? Are you thinking of getting started?