One of the ways that children in a Montessori preschool learn about history and the passage of time is through the birthday ritual known as the birthday walk. The aim of the ritual is to help children recognise how they have grown and changed since birth and why it is they have turned one year older.
A candle is placed in the centre of the circle to represent the sun in our universe. The birthday child carefully holds the class globe and begins the birthday walk around the sun. One walk around the circle represents one rotation of the Earth around the sun or the passing of one year.
As the birthday child walks around the sun her classmates sing the birthday song: “The Earth goes round the sun, the Earth goes round the sun, it takes a whole year for the Earth to go round the sun.” After the first walk around the sun, Edie stopped and her teacher shared a photo of her at one year old and this was repeated after three more circuits of the sun, sharing photos of Edie at 2, 3 and 4 years old.
At the end of Edie’s fifth circuit around the sun everyone sang Happy Birthday and she blew out the sun candle. Then it was time for the important part – cupcakes!
Earlier that morning, after she’d bounded out of bed, we gave gifts to our big five year old.
When I asked Olive a couple of weeks ago what she wanted to give to Edie she insisted that she didn’t just want to go to a toy shop and pick something, she wanted to make a gift for her sister. After much discussion she settled on a cupcake decorating kit. We bought a white box which Olive painstakingly decorated and then filled it with some icing tubes, cupcake sprinkles and sweets for decoration. Olive helped me bake vanilla cupcakes and these went into the box too. I was really proud of her efforts and Edie absolutely loved it.
We ended the day with dinner at the Union Jack, our local English style restaurant and pub – Edie’s second choice for dinner after McDonald’s! Despite promising her dessert at the restaurant, our exhausted five year old asked to be taken home so she could blow out some candles on one of the cupcakes made for her by Olive.
It was a lovely day and for Richard and I as parents, it felt like a major milestone. We made sure to toast ourselves with a wee glass of bubbles over dinner. I’ll be back with another birthday instalment after the big party on Saturday afternoon – time to start planning the cake!