|"The Secret Birthday Message" by Eric Carle|
The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle is really special because it has that treasure-hunt-type feel to it. Students have to look at shape clues to predict where the boy will go in the story to find his birthday surprise. This book covers concepts such as shape identification, direction words and sequencing, and you could extend it to talk about map skills. I really enjoy having my children guess what each shape represents in the real world. Since we're always being told to include higher-level thinking for our pre-k and kindergarten kids, I think this is an excellent way to do it.
Throughout the year in pre-k I use the song "Happy Birthday Letters" by Dr. Jean. I use the following book with the song, and my kids really focus on every single page.
Happy Birthday Letters
Another thing I do to work on one-to-one correspondence and number identification is to put straight candles and numeral candles in Play Doh Center so that children can put them in sculpted cakes. It's easy, fun, and the students are learning how to match quantities with numerals.
In kindergarten, I use these birthday cakes with candles to teach months of the year, spelling, fine motor skills, and name writing. Students write their names somewhere on the cake, cut out the appropriate number of candles, and glue them onto the cake. You can use chalk, markers, crayons, paint, etc. to decorate these cakes. I've also used sequins, foam shapes, and little paper flowers. I always make a pre-made list to tell me whose birthdays are in which month.
Birthday Cakes and Candles 2
After we finish the cakes, there's a great song by Jack Hartmann called "Birthdays" where the children stand up and sit down when they hear their birthday month. I've noticed that this song really helps children with focusing problems, because they have to listen to stand up for their birthday month.
For many years, I celebrated my birthday with the children and taught them traditions from around the world. Here's one of my favorites:
Canada: At birthday parties they serve homemade birthday cakes decorated with colored sugar sprinkles. Between the layers of the cake a wrapped coin might be found. Whomever finds it is the first to get a turn at all the party games. At the parties children receive colorful party favors called crackers. These are tubes wrapped in crepe paper. They pop when you pull a paper strip. Inside there is a small prize, your fortune or a hat.
I would really love to hear special birthday traditions or celebration ideas from you. Please leave me a comment!