Friday, August 18, 2006

Turning 5 at school

Julia had her birthday celebration at school today. It was very much like Robin's last year, with the laudable difference that this time I knew about my role ahead of time.

When I arrived at the school a few minutes before 10:00, the 25-or-so children in her Kinder/Pre-K class (ages 1.5 to 6) were scattered about the room doing their individual "jobs" - some were doing map puzzles, some had sorting or counting activities, some had matching or writing jobs, some had household/life skill types of things. They were speaking to each other and the teacher, and moved about the room, but as always at this school, it was neither noisy nor chaotic. I love that.

The children were instructed to put away their activities, which took a long time but was ultimately accomplished. Even the 1.5 year old, who has only been attending for a month or so, was reminded and then assisted in carrying her materials, which had involved pouring water, over to the appropriate place on the shelf.

They kids sat in a circle and Flor - the principal of the school and one of the two full-time teachers for this age group - had Julia spread out a special cloth in the middle. Flor brought and lit a candle to represent the sun, and gave Julia a globe to hold:

Then Flor got out a set of cards with the months of the year on them. She asked the children how many months are in a year and had them say the names of the months as she arranged the cards in a circle around the "sun."

She asked Julia what month her birthday is in, then moved the August card to the outer edge and had Julia stand there.

Because Julia's birthday isn't until tomorrow, Flor told the children that five years ago today, Julia had not yet been born, but was deciding that she was about ready to breathe the air, see the light and eat on her own.

Then Julia carried the Earth around the Sun one time for each year she has lived while I told about things that she had done and experienced in those years.

After this ceremony, the cake came out. Flor showed it to the kids:

Then Julia lit each birthday candle from the Sun and put it back on the cake:

Robin managed to peek in the window on her way from one activity to another:

Then the children counted the candles and sang Happy Birthday, and Julia blew them out:

The children were told to close their eyes while Julia removed each candle from the cake and decided who to give them to. The first two did go to two of the children I know she especially likes, but she surprised me by giving the third to the little 1.5 year old and the fourth to a girl I didn't think she'd choose [she's the twin of a girl that Julia does like, and the girls' parents are becoming friends of ours, so she sees both of them outside of school, but usually complains about having to play with/relate to the second one.]

Then Julia chose four children to sit at the round table with her and me, and excused each child from the circle, one at a time. When the kids left the circle, they got a plate and a placemat and found a spot at one of the smaller tables. Bananas and guavas were passed out and, after the fruit had been eaten, Flor served the cake.

When they finished the cake, the kids took their plates to the sink and placemats to the shelf, and went outside to play.

Some of the older kids in Robin's class (which is grades 1-3) were doing an interesting activity out there, finding latitude/longitude and other lines on the globe and drawing them on the pavement.

And that is all. There's just enough cake left to share with Robin tonight, and at least two of the four children Julia invited will be with us for tomorrow's activities. One can't make it and one hasn't been in touch (and wasn't at school today), so we'll have to see if she makes it or not.


The Teacher August 19, 2006 3:06 AM  

What a lovely ceremony! I'm going to have to remember parts of that for when I'm teaching my own students!!

Jennifer August 19, 2006 8:21 AM  

...and I'm guessing that by "parts of" the ceremony, you mean you might not have kindergarteners manipulating lighted candles...?

Food Mum August 20, 2006 12:54 PM  

Sounds like a lovely meaningful birthday celebration and quite like the one my daughter had at her Waldorf kindergarten in July and the lighted candle is part of that too!

Sandy August 22, 2006 4:19 PM  

Wow, what a touching ceremony. Lot's of learning ops there and if you don't feel "special" after a celebration like that, you need a new attitude. That is great. By the way, the quality of your new camera is spectacular.
Happy Birthday, Julia. XO

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