Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jack's Montessori Birthday

I've seen this birthday a dozen times played out in my classroom, and it makes me teary each time. The ceremony goes something like this:

We light a candle (in our case, on a beautiful wooden sun with a mirror/candleholder in the center); " to represent the sun, which gives us warmth, and light and life." The months are laid out around it, and the birthday child is given a globe. "You've been on the earth now for four years, and so you've traveled around the sun four times." The child begins to walk around the "sun, " holding the "earth."
The narration gets personal, and so in Jack's case went something like, "You began in Israel with two sisters,Kit and Gabby, and in the first year you sat up and began to speak; the second year (the child is circling again) you began to run, and use your words to get what you want and you moved to America! . . " etc. until the fourth circle, after which the teacher recites this heart-crunching prose that goes something like, " so you will never again be three or two or one . . ." and leads the child to a small music box (which takes some doing to wind, and you hear the plaintive struggle as the little hand turns and you hear the "Happy Birthday" song making its way). I've never seen any child look any other way than proud, illustrating Montessori's famous tenet, "The hand is the tool of the intellect." (Until Jack though, I never saw a child "dance" around the mat, so I am pretty proud of his . . . uniqueness . . . as long as it is joyful.) And then all the children sing, and pass out treats and have snack together. I asked Jack what he wanted, fully expecting Batman cupcakes and he requested "strawberries and gingerbread men!" Happy birthday, Baby.

(sorry I haven't figured out how to rotate the clip from iphone to imovie, at least not tonight)