Birthday Traditions are an important component to celebrating children in your class. A birthday tradition celebrates the day with a special tradition rather than food.

It goes deeper than the cupcake and engrains from an early age the importance of celebrating one another on special days. As a teacher of children in poverty, it is important to establish birthday celebrations that do not necessarily include the children bringing treats like cupcakes

Going Beyond Cupcakes: Birthday Traditions in a Reggio Inspired Classroom

Documentation for Birthday Traditions

Birthday Tradition Steps

  1. The Birthday child chooses a small group (2-3 friends) to help work on the birthday tradition.  I always called this the “Birthday Committee.”
  2. During whole group time, friends can interview the birthday child by asking what are some of their favorite things such as color, toy, activity, movie, dinner, etc.  I would write this on a large chart paper in colorful markers.
  3. During small group time or centers, the Birthday Committee helps to gather materials to work on the tradition with the Birthday Child.
  4. At the end of the day, let the Birthday Child share their finished tradition.  Hang it with the other birthday tradition pieces.

Alternative idea:  A small group of children work together to surprise the birthday child with the finished birthday tradition.


In these Reggio Inspired Classrooms, each class creates their own unique tradition. Here’s a glimpse of some inspiring birthday traditions.

Going Beyond Cupcakes: Birthday Traditions in a Reggio Inspired Classroom

Watercolor Canvas

  1. Make a tag with the child’s first name and birthday date to place under their canvas.
  2. The child draws the first letter of their name with a crayon or oil pastel.
  3. Next the child paints the canvas with watercolors and can even toss on a little bit of glitter.

Going Beyond Cupcakes: Birthday Traditions in a Reggio Inspired Classroom

Yarn Ball Lanterns

  1. I like to prepare these before school starts.   Begin by blowing up enough balloons for each child (and a few extras for new students later in the year!)
  2. Mix up a glue paste to dip the yarn into – here’s a favorite:

2 cups of flour

1/2 cup of white glue

1/2 cup cornstarch

Just enough water to make a thick paste

Do not forget that the flour is what will be creating a stiff lantern.  Do not add too much water.

  1. Wrap the paste soaked yarn around the balloon.
  2. Let dry completely and pop the balloon to remove it.
  3. Make tags with the children’s names and birthday date to hang from their lantern.
  4. Let the birthday child pick a favorite color of ribbon(s) to weave through the lantern.

Optional:  On the day of the child’s birthday or celebrate – place a battery operated candle inside and turned it on. Special!

Going Beyond Cupcakes: Birthday Traditions in a Reggio Inspired Classroom

Wooden Letters

  1. Purchase the first letter of each child’s name.  Craft stores carry both wooden and cardboard letters.
  2. Make a tag to hang under the letters with the child’s name and birthday date.
  3. First thing the morning of the Birthday Child’s celebration – let them pick their favorite color and paint the letter.
  4. Later in the day, let the Birthday Committee help the child decorate the letter with an assortment of glitter, jewels and other art loose parts.

Going Beyond Cupcakes: Birthday Traditions in a Reggio Inspired Classroom

Sand Jars

  1. Buy a jar for each child.  I like to check the dollar store!
  2. Purchase colored sand.  I like to store mine with each color in its own plastic container with a scoop. I put birthday stickers on the outside each container.  We call it Birthday Sand!

TIP:  Test and see how many scoops makes the different bands of sand.  I made a

little laminated chart to show the children.

  1. Hang a tag from each jar with the child’s name and birthday date.
  2. Let the Birthday Child scoop different colors of sand into their birthday jar.  Using a large funnel helps reduce runaway sand!

Reggio Inspired Birthing Traditions

Canvas Collages

  1. Buy a small canvas for each child.
  2. Make a tag for each canvas with the child’s name and birthday date.
  3. In a special box or treasure chest – keep a lovely assortment of nature items.
  4. First thing the morning of the child’s celebration – let them watercolor the canvas with either all warm colors or all cool colors.
  5. Later in the day during small groups or centers – let the birthday child collage on top of the painting using materials out of the special birthday box.

Reggio Inspired Birthday Traditions

Wooden Frames

  1. Buy a frame for each child.  I have found wooden dollar frames at craft stores like Michaels.
  2. Make a special tag to hang under each frame with child’s name and birthday date.
  3. Make a special box of birthday glitter and gems.
  4. First thing the morning of the birthday, let the birthday child pick their favorite color to paint the frame.  Let dry.
  5. During small groups or centers, let the birthday child decorate their frame.
  6. Take a photo of the birthday child wearing a crown to put into the frame.

Reggio Inspired Birthday Traditions

Wood Circle Chandelier

  1. Buy enough wooden craft circles for each child.  (This teacher had them donated from Lowes).
  2. Glue a photo and the birth date on one side of the circle.
  3. Hang from something like a bicycle wheel or even a branch.
  4. On the day of the birthday celebration – let the child and their birthday committee decorate the other side with paint and glitter.

OPTIONAL:  This teacher wrapped the bicycle wheel with battery operated lights that is turned on when it is someone's birthday.

Birthday Traditions - Reggio Inspired Classrom

Branch and Pinecone Chandelier

  1. Find a long branch to hang.
  2. Make or purchase enough wood cookies for each child.   (Wedding supply stores often carry wood cookies with pre-drilled holes for hanging.)
  3. Create a special birthday box filled with assorted pinecones.
  4. Let the birthday child decorate their wood cookie with paint and special beads.
  5. Let dry.
  6. Let the birthday child pick a pinecone or two include in their hanging.

Birthday Traditions - Reggio Inspired Classrom

Wooden Letter Chandelier

  1. Buy a letter for each child.  Many craft stores sell both cardboard and wooden letters.
  2. Hang the letter (wrap wire around one spot) from a bicycle wheel or branch.
  3. On the birthday day – take down the child’s letter and let them fill their wire with colorful beads.

Thank you Rosa Parks ECEC for sharing some beautiful birthday traditions! I know many of you have other inspiring ideas and we would love to see them in the comments below! Big hugs to all of you putting an emphasis on creating a classroom community! Stay tuned for our next blog that focusses on creating classroom signs!

Want more ideas? Click here to get our Classroom BirthdayTraditions ebook – jam-packed with 10 birthday traditions you can start in your classroom. Just click here to download your Free copy.