Everybody has them, and kids love them! So why not use them as a teaching
tool?!? Keep reading for some ideas on just how to do that!
And in the process, you'll make your students feel extra special!
start off the school year talking about birthdays, because it's familiar
territory for the children. Also, if you use The Birthday Cake
book published by The Wright Group, it ties in very nicely with introducing
or reviewing colors. Victoria, at
Korner does that, so make sure you stop by her site for a visit.
As for myself, I've never been able to get my hands on the book The
Birthday Cake, so I've only used birthday ideas on students' actual
I finally have both The Birthday Cake 6 pack of student readers AND the
Big Book for my classroom. My students have enjoyed this book. I
also have the student 6 pack of readers for A Birthday Party will is
another early emergent reader published by The Wright Group. Here's our
pocketchart activity for The Birthday Cake. We read the Big Book,
then we move to reading the reader, as well as the pocketchart sentences.
Last we sequenced the layers of the birthday cake. (We also took the
sentence strips out and put them in order from top to bottom and then we matched
the cake layers to the sentences. The pink set of word cards at the bottom
of the pocketchart are for students to use in matching word cards to words in
the text. The differences in the color helps them to see what words
they've used and what they haven't.
The pocketchart is a new addition to
my classroom. It's about twice as wide as a normal pocketchart and I love
it! I've got it stapled to the wall on strips that were built into the
classroom. The balloon color words activity in the pocketchart was made
using Stickety Splits sent to me by my friend Carol.
I keep up with
my students' birthdays in two ways. I have a birthday cake posted
on my closet door with interchangeable months and candles. (see picture
below). At the beginning of each month, I put up the name of the
month and a candle for each student with a birthday that month. The
candle has the student's name and birthdate on it. (I program all
the candles at the beginning of the year, and keep them in a ziploc bag
in the order of the months. The candles are laminated, so I write
it with a vis-a-vis pen.) So I can tell at a glance who has a birthday
for the month and what the date is, and later in the year, the students
begin checking this for themselves.
(no one had
birthdays in Dec., so all the candles are blank)
I also recently
began keeping up with the birthdays on my pocketchart calendar as well.
I ran across these neat little birthday cake cut-outs, and now when someone
has a birthday, I use a numbered cake cut-out in place of the normal calendar
cut-out. I only put the number on these, not the student's name.
So when we get to a day with a cake cut-out, we know to check the Birthday
Chart to see who's having a birthday.
birthday for May, was May 1st
I also made
a Birthday Banner (see picture below) to hang in the hall on the day of
someone's birthday. The banner is "personalized" by adding the student's
name and the appropriate number of candles on the cake. The banner
is made mostly from felt. The cake decorations are pre-cut foam that
I purchased by the pack at Wal-Mart. The candles on the cake and
the Happy Birthday banner came from another purchased birthday set that
I use instead for teaching the months of the year. I hotglued the
banner on, and attached the candles to the cake using stick on velcro dots.
My aide made the tassel for the bottom. Since I don't have a sewing
machine any more, I hotglued the top of the banner over to form a "sleeve"
in which to insert the wooden dowel. Then I just added the cord to
hang it by. Last, I printed each student's name on the computer using
the Print Artist graphics program to "fancy it up." Once I take the
banner down, the student gets to take their name home as part of the birthday
Because I'm a Resource classroom,
we don't have big birthday celebrations like they do in the regular education
classrooms. The birthday student gets a party hat, a treat bag, a Birthday
Certificate, and a trip to the Treasure Box. I usually bring in a cupcake
or something in which I can stick a candle, we light it, sing Happy Birthday,
they make a wish and blow it out. Sometimes I bring enough for the whole
class, other times I bring only enough for the birthday student. It just
depends. However, the birthday student gets their cupcake, or whatever, on
a special birthday plate that matches their hat, treat bag, and matching napkin.
If the other students are eating, they get plain stuff.
In the treat
*a party blower
that matches the hat, bag, plate, napkin
~note: I make
up enough bags at the beginning of the year for each student and keep them
in a basket. So when I need one, all I have to do is pull it out
of the basket ... no assembly required!
student also gets to choose a book for me to read to the class from a selection
of birthday books .
gotten my new digital camera, next year I'd like to take a picture of each
student on their birthday in their hat and send that home with them in
their treat bag as well.
I also put
the Happy Birthday song on sentence strips along with "word cards" for
matching the text. (to see the process of how this is done, check
out the Chocolate Bunny poem on the
... there I go into detail on how this is set up.) We practice singing
the song using the pocketchart, because amazingly, most of my students
do not know the words to the song. We have a blank for the name,
and I insert a 3x5 card into the blank with the birthday student's name.
Then later, they take turns matching the words to the text. For fun, you
can move the words around and then sing the song according to the way they
are set up. Ex:
you to birthday,
I've also been
working on putting together a "It's My Birthday!" take-home tote.
I have one of those clear plastic totes that I bought at Dollar Tree.
In the tote I have several birthday books, a cassette of the birthday song
by Mr. Al, a birthday puzzle, a birthday cake to color and decorate, coloring
sheets, and a picture sequencing activity sheet of a birthday party.
I'm also going to add a Birthday Journal so that they, or their parents,
can write about what they did on their birthday. The student would
get to choose which activities they'd like to complete, and none would
be mandatory. They would return the tote (with the contents intact)
the next day. They could then share any activities that they'd completed
with the class. (Of course, you'd need to include a letter to the parents
in the tote, letting them know the procedure of what could be done, and
what needed to be returned.)
I also put
together a counting activity where the students have to add the correct
number of real candles to a cake on a math mat to match the number on the
cake. Each mat has a cake with a number, but without candles. The
student counts out that many candles and adds them to the cake. You
can see the reproducible at
A more difficult
skill would be to have two mats with a cake on each mat. One cake
would be programmed with the word "tens" and the other cake would be programmed
with the word "ones." Then 3x5 index cards would be cut in half and
programmed with a two digit number. The student would put the correct
number of candles on the cake according to the two digit number.
Ex. The number 23 would have 2 candles on the tens cake and 3 candles
on the ones cake. You can see the reproducible at
adapted from one in TCM Happy Birthday Bulletin Board insert
Since I have
students with varying abilities, I need to have several difficulty levels
of activities to offer. So I'm still on the look out for activities
to include in the tote.. One idea for the tote would be to tape the students
singing Happy Birthday and include that tape in the tote as a keepsake
for the birthday student.
the beginning of the school year, graph the birthdays of the students.
You could use the cake calendar cut-outs to make a pictograph, or you could
use Ellison die-cut candles.
This is a list of daily graphing questions that I
created and compiled to incorporate into my Morning Meeting while I'm working on
this unit. Some of the questions may not be appropriate to use in every
school situation. You'll have to be the judge as to what's appropriate for
your classroom. I know I can't use many of these questions about the
birthday party because many of my students don't have parties and I wouldn't
want to make them feel left out or neglected in any way.
Daily Graphing Questions:
1 - How old are you?
2 - What month is your birthday?
3 - What day of the month is your
birthday? (ex. 12th, 23rd)
4 - What flavor birthday cake do you
5 - What one thing would you want for
6 - What's your favorite flavor of
7 - Did you have a birthday party?
8 - Where was your birthday part?
9 - How many girls were at your
10 - How many boys were at your
11 - Were there any animals at your
birthday party? yes no
12 - What did you have to drink at
your birthday party?
13 - Did you swim at your birthday
party? yes no
14 - What's your favorite balloon
15 - Did you give your guests
presents at your birthday party? yes no
16 - Did you blow all the candles out
on your cake the first time? yes no
17 - Did your guests dress up to come
to your party? yes no
18 - How many presents did you get?
19 - Did you have a theme at your
20 - What was the theme at your
21 - Is your best friend the same age
that you are? yes no
22 - How old do you wish you were?
23 - How old do you think your mom
24 - How old do you think your dad
25 - How old do you think your
teacher is? (hehehe!)
26 - How many pieces of birthday cake
can you eat at one time?
27 - How many scoops of ice cream
would you like?
28 - Would you rather have a birthday
cake or cupcakes?
29 - What color candles would you
30 - Do you like trick candles?
31 - Do you like birthday spankings
or birthday hugs?
32 - Do you like lemonaide or Kool-aide
33 - Do you like birthday surprises?
34 - Have you ever had a surprise
35 - Have you ever gotten a pet for
36 - What is your favorite toy?
37 - What is your favorite stuffed
38 - Do you like to pop balloons?
39 - Do you like clowns? yes
40 - Do you have a picture of
yourself with cake all over your face?
I'm also going to incorporate a weekly graph in the
Morning Meeting. Each day we'll add the next piece of the pattern.
The pattern for Sept. when I'll be doing the Birthday Unit this year will be
Birthday Patterns (ABB)
Week 1: cake, candle, candle
Week 2: present, balloon, balloon
This is only going to be a two week
unit. I'm going to do the pattern in the pocketchart and use die-cuts or
pictures when needed.
each student a small bag of birthday candles and let them graph them according
to color. (this would also be a good idea for the take-home totes)
the class make a class book for the student. Each student would complete
the sentence frame: I like (the student's name) because ....
Then they'd draw a picture of the student. All pages would be compiled
together as a keepsake book for the birthday student. The birthday
student could complete a page for the book with the sentence frame:
I am ___ years old today. Then they could draw a picture of themselves.
This could be the last page of the book.
is another idea that I wanted to do this year, but I got side-tracked and
never did it. The birthday student could answer a short questionaire
to be posted by the Birthday Banner in the hall, or it could be an additional
page in the classbook. The questionaire could be similar to ...
One gift they
hope they get for their birthday:
going to celebrate their birthday:
If posted in
the hall, the template could be written on a big birthday cake cut-out,
then laminated. Complete the questionaire using a Vis-a-vis pen and
it can be reused for each birthday.
* The Secret
Birthday Message ~ Eric Carle
* Happy Birthday
Dear Duck ~ Eve Bunting
Birthday Surprise ~ Katherine Holabird
Happy, Contrary Mary ~ Anita Jeram
* The Berenstain
Bears and Too Much Birthday ~ Stan & Jan
* Be Ready
at Eight ~ Peggy Parrish
Birthday Party ~ Norman Bridwell
* Some Birthday!
~ Patricia Polacco
* Happy Birthday,
Sam ~ Pat Hutchins
* Make a Wish,
Honey Bear! ~ Marcus Pfister
* The Surprise
Party ~ Annabelle Prager
* The Birthday
Present ~ Mavis Smith
* Froggy Bakes
a Cake ~ Jonathan London
* The Birthday
Door ~ Eve Merriam
* My Dog and
the Birthday Mystery ~ David Adler
* Happy Birthday,
Ronald Morgan ~ Patricia R. Giff
* A Letter
to Amy ~ Ezra Jack Keats
Special for Me ~ Vera B. Williams
Birthday Present ~ Marietta Moskin
* A Birthday
Basket for Tia ~ Pat Mora
Presents ~ Cynthia Rylant
Birthday ~ Marc Brown
* Franklin's Birthday Party ~
The best birthday
gift would be ...
The best birthday
cake would be ...
For a perfect
birthday party I would ...
If my friend
forgot my birthday I would ...
As I get older
I will ...
My best birthday
ever was when ...
This is how
you make a birthday cake ...
thing about birthdays is ...
can download a free blackline copy of Darby's Birthday Party (level J reader)
cake coloring sheet at:
In the past,
my students got to wear a crown instead of a party hat on their birthday.
They were King or Queen for the day. I purchased the crowns (boy
and girl) from the local party supply store.
can create your own blackline book and pocketchart activities to go along
with Joy Cowley's book, The Birthday Cake. I also created
a blackline pattern for the students to assemble their own birthday cake
in the same sequence as the book. They color each layer the appropriate
color, cut it out, and glue it on a large sheet of construction paper turned
vertically in the appropriate order.
You can use
the same pattern from above to create felt cake layers for use on the flannelboard.
Birthday emergent readers
forget to add the Happy Birthday song to your Poetry Journals, and any
of the other songs and poems that you use!
Fresh & Fun Birthdays (K - 2), published by Scholastic, has additional
birthday cake cut-outs programmed with the months of the year for your
students to use to practice sequencing the months in the pocketchart.
math mats for practice in measuring using different sizes and/or numbers
of cake layers. Color, cut out, and glue the cakes onto construction
paper. Place a blank at the bottom of the page so that students can
measure the cake using either standard or non-standard measurement and
record their answer. Laminate the mats and provide the students with
the appropriate measuring tools and a Vis-a-Via pen. They use baby
wipes to clean them when they're through.
Birthday Award printable
Birthday Cake Quilt:
This is a mini quilt that my class created using a glyph that I adapted.
Here's the picture, but I'll have to add the glyph later (it's at school of
I could not find my notes for the
glyph, although I found the original glyph which came from a glyph resource
book. But I think I can look at the picture and make up another one. :)
1. Color the roses your favorite
2. If you like cake best, color the
If you like ice
cream best, color the trim blue.
3. If you like chocolate icing best,
color your cake brown.
If you like
vanilla icing best, color your cake white.
If you like
strawberry icing best, color your cake pink.
4. Cut out your cake. If you
are a girl, glue it to a pink square.
If you are a boy, glue
it to a blue square.
5. If you are 6 years old, glue on 6
If you are 7 years
old, glue on 7 candles.
If you are 8 years
old, glue on 8 candles.
6. If your birthday is in _____ glue
on a ______:
*for this step, you actually have a
chart so they can see what they're supposed to get and you don't have to keep
rereading it over and over. You could put the Ellison cut-outs on a table
or in a pocketchart and let them take turns coming up.
to ME! printable
Birthday Crown printable