13 September 2013

a birthday, Montessori-style

It may well have been Deb's Living Montessori Now post that first introduced me to the Montessori way of observing a child's birthday. The birthday child carries a globe around the "sun", once for every year they have been alive. At many schools this is accompanied by a special song, looking at photographs of the child growing up, or even reminiscences from the different years of the child's life. For another description with a couple of gorgeous photos, see MariaMontessori.com.

I decided I'd like to try something similar for my godson's birthday. Not having a globe, I started by printed out a large picture of the earth. Then Godson's sister and I drew labels for the four seasons of the year.

the drawings by Godson's sister and Storyteller

I put a big yellow candle in the middle of the room to signify the sun, placed the season signs around it, and then we sat in a rough circle around the candle. (Some Montessori schools are even more correct, sitting in an ellipse-shape!) As this was an unfamiliar custom for us, it became clear it would work better for me to circle the sun while Godson sat with everyone else and listened.

I mentioned the day he was born and the day he came home from the hospital, the first time he rolled over, and what his first "solid" foods were. I remembered what he'd worn for Hallowe'en each year, what they'd done for Christmas, their annual spring weekend at Family Church Camp, and at least one summer highlight. [His parents spotted immediately that most of the information had been cribbed from their blog!]

I included his sister's birth, the chicken pox, riding on his granddad's tractor, and his first day of school. Several times he interrupted to add something. For example, when I remembered their move from a small apartment to a larger house he said, "That's this house!"

When we got to age six, I stopped and sat down. "Now you have to tell me about last year, because I was in England and don't know what happened!" And so Papa took the earth picture, and with the help of the rest of the family told the story of his son's seventh year.

Although he seemed to enjoy most of it, at the very end Godson asked, "Why did this take sssooo llooong?" I answered, "Because you've been alive now for SEVEN YEARS!"


  1. It's wonderful that you gave your godson that experience. I'm sure it'll be a special memory for him through the years. And thanks for linking to my post! :)

    1. Happy to do so, Deb. Thanks for introducing me to this ritual.

  2. I love the Montessori celebration of life. I am a veteran Montessori teacher, and also LOVE your information about Godly play. My church in Texas used this, and I both of my boys (now teens) had the experience. I am looking to make some materials for my young daughter. We home school and our church does not offer the program. Thanks for this wonderful space!

    1. Welcome, Emmie, and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It's an encouragement! :)


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