A Montessori Birthday 

A Meaningful Montessori Birthday 

Ingredients for a simple yet meaningful birthday 

A week of low cost activities about her favourite animals- birds!

This was her birthday present, a card game with beautifully illustrated birds from all over the world. We included bottle caps for her to make bottle cap birds with corresponding colors to the cards!

Also, our no-frills take on the Montessori baric exercises by pressing different amounts of dough in leftover Easter eggs, here.

And bird art done with freehand stencils and sponges pressed in paint.

The art was modelled on the stencilling technique used in this lovely Australian bird and counting book, which I added binoculars and a Kookaburra bird puppet bought from Melbourne.

In addition, Emmy also worked on a super-easy jellyfish craft, perfect even for young toddlers who love tearing and sticking.

It was inspired by how much she loved the jellyfish sensory bottle (click here for instructions on how to make your own) her Uncle (jiujiu in Mandarin) bought her at a student fair, which floats upwards whenever you turn the bottle.

On her birthday itself, we went to Little Planet, an indoor playgym focusing more on pretend play than active play. This isn’t quite as Montessori as say going to a real farm (they had a fantastic day at Collingwood Children’s Farm when we were in Melbourne months back), but it was just opposite that soup restaurant that we knew Emmy loved and we wanted to treat our family too.

The playgym was divided into several stations. It was a wonderful two hours spent and the children were quite absorbed and playing independently. But I cannot escape my inner geek and will be offering a few suggestions below to make the playgym more Montessori and also more engaging.

Fishing

The first station was fishing-themed. Kids could step on stones, get into a boat and use fishing rods to pick up fish.

Suggestion: mount the boat on wheels so they can really “row” it.

Supermarket

Second station was predictably a big hit.a huge assortment of rubber foods awaited, both Western and Asian.

And the trolleys were fun as the children exerted maximum effort, loading them to the brim and pushing them all around.

There were even trays and tongs near the baked good section of this mini supermarket, which would be great for fine motor practice. 

Suggestion: move the trays down to kids’ eye level. They are currently on the top of the shelving unit. Also, include a cash register and conveyor belt to close the loop on this type of pretend play.

There was also a room directly adjacent to this supermarket, with more play kitchens (albeit plastic) and pullout drawers full of kitchen items.

Drama and costumes

A stage area and a dress-up trunk. 

Suggestion: somehow this area at the back felt a little neglected and hardly anyone used it, I might have displayed related books and hung up all the costumes and props for maximum visual effect. Also, include some silks or good old OHP so the kids can create their own backdrops, and hang the curtain rods.so the curtains can be drawn- that reveal is a huge part of the fun for kids!

Farm

By far the kids’ favourite- one part had neat little rows of plants that they could dig with spades and put on their wheelbarrows.

I saw felt planter toys selling on Etsy for $30?? So I made my own mini version with just $6 of dollar store materials, adhesive felt and Styrofoam blocks. Read more here.

And this wonderful little soil pit, actually brown resin beads. Stain and residue free, could be swept up and dumped back into the pit easily, and a lovely rain-like sound that gave satisfactory auditory feedback.

Suggestion: park some kid-sized brooms here so they could help clean their own deliberate spills instead of just looking on at the playgym attendant sweeping. Also, strengthen the connection between farm and supermarket, elevating the play into self-education by demonstrating the food distribution chain. I remember Kidstop at Science Centre was mildly more successful at doing this last year, albeit through information placards that might seem boring compared to all the exciting play structures.

The Montessori celebration 

The Montessori celebration is a minimalist but poignant one. Linked to cosmic education and one’s place in the world and in history, it affirms the identity-seeking child as special and uniquely loved.

We need a candle to represent the sun, a line (can be masking tape, drawn in chalk, twine or we formed ours by color tablets from Color Box 3) and a globe or ball to represent the earth. The concept is that just as it takes the earth 365 days to orbit the sun, it takes a child 365 days to grow one year older.

I invited Emmy to hold the ball and I told the story of her birth, then had her walk around the line holding Dada’s hand as I sang this classic song:

The earth goes around the sun

The earth goes around the sun

The earth goes around the sun

And then Emmy turns one!

Self-proclaimed “teacher Dylan” also helped to hold up photos of Emmy as a baby. He was evidently familiar with this routine as he had experienced this many times in his Montessori classroom, and in fact, I learnt this birthday routine by observing his teacher conduct Dylan’s birthday celebration in the classroom.
I repeated the stories and song (changing the last line to “and Emmy turns two”) for Emmy’s second year of life, had her walk around the line a second time, and then invited her to blow out her birthday candle. She was unusually shy and hung back abit but she still blew it out with a smile.

Later that night, we prayed for her and each of us, including Dylan, took turns to hug her and tell her something we love.

Happy birthday beautiful!

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