Celebrating Birthdays at St. John's
At the heart of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is the concept of relationships. An integral part of building relationships at St. John's is the tradition of celebrating a child's birthday and participation on "Birthday Committees." Participating in "Birthday Committees" throughout the school year, provides each child an opportunity to develop empathy for others, as they get to know their classmates. Inspired by what the they have learned about their classmates during the interview process, the birthday committee sets about creating a personalized gift for the child being celebrated. While working on the birthday gift, children make collaborative decisions and gain experience using a variety of materials.
The celebration of a child's birthday is a developmentally appropriate pathway through which we explore the passage of time. The "Birthday Calendar" in each classroom, visually represents the passage of time for children as each child's birthday is marked on the calendar as it is celebrated. The children have noticed that our Brown Room calendar, which hangs above the Rainey Room one , was not yet complete. One celebration was yet to be held for the calendar to be full. We were unable to hold Louisa's celebration in the spring, but on Friday, we welcomed her family into the Rainey Room to celebrate, completing the cycle of birthdays from last year.
Getting To Know Louisa
We interviewed Louisa at morning meeting and learned a bit more about her. Ellie started the interview asking, "What you favorite color?" Louisa quietly shared that yellow and pink were her favorites. We also asked her about her favorite food or snack. To which Louisa's mom shared that she loves pineapple (which is yellow like one of her favorite colors). The interview concluded when we asked Louisa what her favorite thing to do in the Brown Room was. She enthusiastically confirmed "puzzles" as her favorite classroom experience. With that information, the birthday committee got to work with materials inspired by puzzles, pink and yellow!
Painting the Pieces of Louisa's Puzzle
On our backwards day, Rawls and Isabelle were invited into the studio in the outdoor classroom and found the materials that would be used to make Louisa's gift: wooden blocks of various shapes and sizes and liquid watercolors. They set to work by first emptying the wooden pieces from the frame. Then Isabelle chose her first piece to paint, "I'm going to do this one," then she pointed to a jar of liquid watercolor, "I'm going to this (pink)." Rawls focused on covering each side of the pink rectangular piece on which he was working first, "I cover the top. Paint the whole piece." As they stained the wooden pieces of Louisa's puzzle with liquid watercolor in pink, yellow and metallic gold, Isabelle and Rawls described their work.
Incorporating early math skills, Rawls recognized that he could use two colors on one block: I do 2 yellow. I going to do half this (yellow) and half purple (pink).
Isabelle used her brush to push the liquid watercolor around on her chosen block: Spread, spread, spread. I'm done with this block.
On the second day, the birthday committee were presented with the painted puzzles pieces and a variety of pink and yellow materials for collage.
Collaging Pieces of Louisa's Puzzle
The birthday committee used yellow and pink materials on the second day of committee work to collage upon the blocks that had been painted on Day 1. The materials varied from beads to ribbons and sequins and even included some puzzle pieces.
Ford picked up a puzzle piece from the tray of materials: Look. Puzzle. Let’s connect them. Think these go together. Ford then proceeded with a minimalist approach to his collaging, choosing to place only yellow beads on yellow blocks for his next two pieces. Charlton chose to glue yellow plastic pieces on top of yellow ribbon on pink blocks.
Ford remembered some information from the birthday committee's interview earlier in the week: Louisa likes dark yellow. I like dark green and dark blue and dark yellow. They are my favorite colors.
Cal: I want some glue. Choosing a 2nd block to collage upon, Cal considered his choice, "Hmmm, maybe this one."
Bailee picked up a pink butterfly. She carefully applied glue on a rectangular pink block using a brush. She added two puzzle pieces to the block and then layered a pink butterfly with a pink bead on top of one of the puzzle pieces. Bailee added a sequin piece to her block and then picked up another shiny material and identified it as "A seashell."
Win: I pick this. A butterfly. She then drizzled glue on a pink block, "I want puzzle piece. I need more (glue)." After Win had brushed enough glue on the yellow block, she picked up a pink oval and placed it. She added yellow pieces next adding dimension by layering a seashell on top of the pink oval, then a yellow sequined ball and finally a starburst next to it. Win then chose a pink block with gold accents and added three yellow pieces, a gold button, a shiny yellow butterfly and a matte yellow swoosh.
Celebrating Louisa's Birthday
After a delicious snack of dinosaur cupcakes and muffins, Louisa's mom and dad, Danica and Greg, joined us in the Rainey Room to celebrate. Her mom, Danica shared two books with us. The children were eager to learn about horses and ponies (one of Louisa's favorite subjects) from Danica's first reading. Danica shared a story familiar to all of us, What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night for the second book. Next, the children enthusiastically sang "It's Your Birthday and You Know It," before Louisa walked around the birthday candle. Assisted by her dinosaur figurine and mom, she blew out her candle. To conclude the celebration, members of the final birthday committee from our Brown Room year, presented Louisa with her gift, a pink and yellow puzzle made from wooden pieces, painted with liquid watercolors and collaged with pink and yellow materials of a variety of sizes, shapes and textures.