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Birthdays!! 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!

Some teachers 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 Kinder 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 birthdays.

UPDATE:  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.

The only 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 package.

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 bag:
*a birthday pencil
*a birthday sticker
*a party blower that matches the hat, bag, plate, napkin
*some candy
*a lollipop
~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!

The birthday student also gets to choose a book for me to read to the class from a selection of birthday books .

Since I've 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 Easter page ... 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:

Happy you to birthday,
Birthday happy to you,
Dear ___  birthday happy,
You happy birthday to!

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 The Teacher's Bookbag.

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 The Teacher's Bookbag.
*this idea 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.

Other birthday ideas:

  At 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 like?

5 - What one thing would you want for your birthday?

6 - What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

7 - Did you have a birthday party?

8 - Where was your birthday part?

9 - How many girls were at your birthday party?

10 - How many boys were at your birthday party?

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 color?

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 birthday party?

20 - What was the theme at your birthday party?

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 is?

24 - How old do you think your dad is?

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 rather have?

30 - Do you like trick candles?  yes   no

31 - Do you like birthday spankings or birthday hugs?

32 - Do you like lemonaide or Kool-aide the best?

33 - Do you like birthday surprises?

34 - Have you ever had a surprise birthday party?

35 - Have you ever gotten a pet for your birthday?

36 - What is your favorite toy?

37 - What is your favorite stuffed animal?

38 - Do you like to pop balloons?   yes   no

39 - Do you like clowns?  yes   no

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 ABB.


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.

Give 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)

Have 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. 

This 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 ...

Favorite color:
Favorite food:
Favorite thing to do:
Favorite book:
One gift they hope they get for their birthday:
How they're 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. 


Birthday Books: 
* The Secret Birthday Message ~ Eric Carle
* Happy Birthday Dear Duck ~ Eve Bunting
* Angelina's Birthday Surprise ~ Katherine Holabird
* Birthday Happy, Contrary Mary ~ Anita Jeram
* The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday ~ Stan & Jan      Berenstain
* Be Ready at Eight ~ Peggy Parrish
* Clifford's 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
* Something Special for Me ~ Vera B. Williams
* Rosie's Birthday Present ~ Marietta Moskin
* A Birthday Basket for Tia ~ Pat Mora
* Birthday Presents ~ Cynthia Rylant
* Arthur's Birthday ~ Marc Brown

* Franklin's Birthday Party ~ Scholastic

Birthday Writing Prompts:
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 ...
The worst thing about birthdays is ...

You can download a free blackline copy of Darby's Birthday Party (level J reader) at Reading a-z.

Birthday 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.

You 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

Don't 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 activities. 

Use birthday cake cut-outs programmed with the months of the year for your students to use to practice sequencing the months in the pocketchart.

Make 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 course!).  :)

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 color.


2. If you like cake best, color the trim pink.

    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 real candles.

    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 ______:








    Aug/sand bucket

    Sept/school house

    Oct/jack o'lantern



*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.


Happy Birthday to ME! printable


Birthday Crown printable




Balloon Letters





Graphics provided by Gran Gran's


Backgrounds provided by:
Robin's Nest Graphics

Magic Wand Cursor script provided by:
Dynamic Drive


last updated 6.27.09


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