Birthday Traditions at School

To make a long story short, I asked our #CCU Instagram audience today a question about birthdays*. I encouraged our followers to take a stroll down memory lane and reveal the best birthday tradition that an elementary teacher practiced when a student had a birthday.

We got a good response. Answers dealt with the birthday boy/girl being celebrated in various ways, including…
Line leader all day.
Prominent seat in a special, decorated chair.
Small birthday presents from teacher.
Donning of a birthday crown.
Various privileges with the classroom pet.

In Mrs. Reser’s classroom, a unique song is performed by the classmates in honor of the birthday student. I would know, two weeks ago the class Facetimed me on my birthday and performed it!

To be honest, I was little surprised to see that the birthday tradition upheld by at least two of my elementary school teachers didn’t make the comment thread. Since the practice was used by more than one of my educators, I just assumed it would have been a little more common on a national scale. But I guess not…

As a student at Farwell Elementary in Spokane, we wrote homemade birthday cards to our fellow students on their special day.

My two teachers who practiced this, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Pryor, would pass out construction paper to us. They would guide us to fold the piece of paper “hamburger style.” Once the form of the card was complete, we could “have at it” with our colored pencils and crayons. With Happy Birthday ________ (insert student’s name) written up on the whiteboard, we could properly address the card without fear of making 3rd grade spelling errors.

We worked on our cards while eating whatever treat the birthday celebrant brought in (I always went big on my birthday). When we finished with our birthday correspondence, we would bring it up to the front of the room and place it in a big paper folder that the teacher made, complete with the name of the student written on the front. At the end of the day, the teacher would give the birthday kid his/her folder to take home.

Looking back on this practice now, I see the learning component behind it. Not only did it teach us to be artsy, but it also taught us how to write in a card, something that everyone will do hundreds, if not thousands, of times. But probably more importantly, it taught us to properly recognize someone on their birthday. It drove home the point that it is the kind thing to do to wish someone well on the date of their birth. These lessons weren’t lost on me.

Did you have a beloved tradition that one of your teachers did when a student had a birthday? If so, let me know. I am curious to see if anyone else had a teacher that did something as practical as Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Pryor. Don’t Blink.

* – As part of a complex social media campaign called the #CCUInstaGames, every Monday we ask our audience to answer a question that requires them to reminisce about their childhood. To learn more, take a look at our Instagram account, @ccuchanticleers.