Friday, February 26, 2010

The Best Birthday Surprise Ever

This is our birthday throne. When we celebrate birthdays or half-birthdays (for the summer babies) I hold this throne in the air, turn it so they can see underneath . . .

. . . and say, "This throne is made of . . . "

And the children shout out:


"Paper mache!"

"A chair!"

"Wire mesh!"

"Wooden sticks!"



"Spider webs!"

Every now and then one of them remembers (or can pronounce), "Polyurethane!"

I then say, "And it was made by . . ."

And the children shout out:


"Big kids!"

"Now they're in 6th grade!"

I say, "That's right. Kids like you. And they made it for you a long time ago." I then turn the chair around so the children can see the back and point out their names. The great chair making children from the past signed the throne in red and I copied those signatures in black just to make sure I would always be able to read them:

I then set it on the floor at the front of the room and invite our special person to sit in it. I ask the children turning 3 (or 2.5) a few questions about how old they are and if they had any cake, then we sing "Happy Birthday," followed by the chance to blow out the candles on a cake I make with my fingers.

The children turning 4 or 5 bring in an "I Am Special Board" (poster board) with photos of themselves, their special people, and other things that are important to them, and we take 5-10 minutes to talk about each of them. They then get to pick which of our 5 birthday songs they want us to sing. Increasingly, the choice is "all of them." These include the traditional birthday song, the version about smelling like a monkey, the one with "Cha-cha-cha" added at the end of each line, a variation with "Goo-goo-ga" at the end of each line, and the "fast one," which goes:
This is your birthday song.
It isn't very long.
Yesterday, the children in our 3-5 class turned the tables on me with the help of their parents. During the time that they normally would be engaged in their small group activities, while I'm outside getting the playground ready, they got out the throne and an "I Am Special Board" that they had prepared for me, and gathered on our blue circle time rug. Ella's mom Jaimee then tricked me into coming back into the room by saying, "Teacher Tom, you have to come see this great small group activity!"

As I made my way into the room, I asked, "Which table?"

Jaimee said, "You'll see."

And when I walked through the door, they squealed and laughed and said, "Surprise!" I got to sit in the throne and talk about my pictures. I was only going to choose one version of the birthday song, but they made me choose all of them. While I was at the center of a giant group hug, several of the children took the moment to tell me they loved me.

I said I loved them too.

It was the best birthday surprise ever!

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Eternal Lizdom said...

Love it, love it, love it!!!

Unknown said...

Aww...I got all teary eyed!

Rose said...

What a special surprise. Happy Birthday.

Michelle said...

I have to admit, I got teary eyed too! To cute.

Juliet Robertson said...

What a great story. Thanks for all your posting this week, Tom. It's Friday night here in Scotland and I just popped on to have a look. Too much to talk about. Keep blogging!

Ms Debbie said...

From everything I have read.. you deserve a throne. I hope your day was special ! Thanks for all you do for kids.

Launa Hall said...

Happy birthday, Teacher Tom! I think all your blog readers would like to offer you a virtual throne, too. We're out here singing all the songs!

Anonymous said...

Ok...I'll admit to the teary-eyed part too. What an awesome thing to do for a super-special guy! Happy Birthday!

Deborah Stewart said...

I loved it too Tom! That was an excellent birthday surprise. What a great way for parents and children to give you back a little love!

Mr. Halpern said...

Happy Birthday! Here's the song we sing (not sure if it's one of yours or not...)

I don't know if you've been told,
Somewhere here is getting old,
Good news is we sing for free,
Bad news is we sing off key,

Unknown said...

Every superhero needs a throne! What a great day, Tom! I'm glad the kids helped make your day really special!

Eva C. said...

I'm STILL surprised you chose the monkey version FIRST!

Unknown said...

Your love inspires me.