Our Montessori birthday

Un bellissimo modo di festeggiare il compleanno senza sprechi e celebrando la vita.

Carlotta Cerri

For some years now we have been celebrating Oliver and Emily's birthday with a small "ritual" that we call the "Montessori birthday": it was not invented by Maria Montessori, but it is the way children's birthdays are celebrated in many Montessori schools around the world.

Since we decided to not give in to consumerism and say no to plastic (which includes balloons), this is my way of making my children's birthdays special, without forgetting what really matters on their day: the celebration of life.

What you need

This is how I prepare the Montessori birthday.

  • Small or large globe (or a toy globe)
  • A table candle
  • A colored cardboard or felt paper to cut out the age
  • Child’s photos: 1 photo of the birth day and 1 photo for each year of the child’s life (I like to print them out, but while traveling I created a collection on the phone, which is also more eco-friendly ;-) It doesn't have to be a photo from the birthday, it can be a photo that represents the child on that year of life).
  • Optional: I made a sun and rays out of cardboard and use it as the sun: when we're done I put the sun and rays away and use them again for the following birthday. Download here a PDF that I created for you to make the sun and the rays with the months, you'll find a colored version and a B&W one. MISTAKE: in this photo the rays are positioned wrong: Earth revolves anticlockwise around the Sun.  

In the Montessori school that Oliver and Emily went to, they added the name of the child written with the moveable alphabet letters, a flag of the child's country of origin, and red and blue bars to indicate the age.

How we do it

In the evening, after putting the children to sleep, I prepare the room. I put the globe, the candle and the number on a low table on a mat on the floor. The globe represents the earth where we live, it is us. The lit candle represents the sun. The number represents the number of times the earth has gone around the sun since the child was born.

In the morning, as soon as we wake up, we sit around the table or carpet. We light the candle. We talk about the special day and I remind the children what each object on the table represents.

Then we start the actual Montessori birthday. Let's imagine it's Oliver's birthday:

- We look at a photo of when Oliver was born.

- Oliver takes the globe in his hand and goes the candle (the sun) while we sing a song.

- Oliver is now one year old, and we look at a photo (or a series of photos) of his first year of life (it doesn't need to be his first birthday, just photo that represent him in his first year)

- Oliver goes around the sun once more while we sing.

- Now Oliver is two years old and we look at a photo of his second year of life.

- Another tour around the sun (with song) and we look at a photo of his third year of life.

- And so on until Oliver has gone around the sun as many times as his years of life (in the photos, he turned 5). At this point, we’ll ask: "Do you want to see a photo of 5-year-old Oliver?". And we take a selfie, his first photo when he’s 5 :-)

- Oliver blows out the candle and the “ritual” is over.

After all the birthday parties we went to, for Oliver and Emily birthday means cake (when they were younger they used to say: “Where's the birthday? I want to eat the birthday” meaning "cake"), so since we usually don't give gifts, after the Montessori celebration we have breakfast with a small cake, and blow out the candles.

The song

The song we use is in English and we sing it on a slow (customised 😂) variation of the Popeye theme song (don't ask me why, it just happened!). The lyrics we use is:

The earth goes around the sun

The earth goes around the sun

The earth goes around the sun

And Emily turns one

The final number changes each time, of course, and therefore the song doesn't always rhyme, but it's nice anyway.

Photos and video of our Montessori birthdays

Here's a video of Emily's third birthday: we were in our Airbnb in Hoi An, Vietnam, during our world tour. I have such a very sweet, cosy memory of that day and that's why I decided to make a very simple video that would reflect my memory. In the video you can hear the song, and after each song we looked at the pictures… so many memories!

And these are some photos from Oliver's fifth birthday: we were in our Airbnb in Bali during our world tour and nonna Savina had come to visit us.

I'm always in my pjs :-D
The number (written on the tablet, because I didn't paper), the globe and the candle. 
Here I added 5 small objects to represent the quantity.
First photo of 5-year-old Oliver :-)

And here's some photos of when Oliver and Emily celebrated their birthdays in their ex Montessori school in San Pedro, Casa del Mar Montessori.

Oliver compiva 4 anni ed Emily 2 anni, l'anno in cui siamo partiti per il nostro viaggio intorno al mondo. 

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