When I first started teaching maternelle, I must admit… I liked to make things complicated.
Not on purpose, of course – I just wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted my students to have THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER in my class.
So I had treasure chests and classroom jobs, students of the week and elaborate show and tell plans.
And for my students’ birthdays, I had a big fancy poster where I spent ages handwriting their birthdays and adding pretty stickers. I had a special crown for my students to wear, and I gave them a gift (from the dollar store, but still!) and it was just… a lot.
A lot of time spent on things that my students could really do themselves.
Since that first year, I have definitely calmed down.
I work hard to ensure that my students still have an amazing experience in my class, but I have found that my limited time is much better spent on developing amazing lesson plans and actual learning activities, rather than birthday celebrations and fancy decorations.
(Of course, if you have time to do those things and THEY MAKE YOU HAPPY, then continue doing them!!! I just was no longer enjoying them after the first year – I had so much on my plate and was looking for things to take off of it).
Now, I make it my motto to never do things that my students can do themselves.
This includes birthday displays!
Read on to see what I do now.
At the start of the school year, we want our students to feel welcome and included in our classrooms.
One fun activity that I like to do during the first week of school in maternelle is a birthday cupcake display.
(And no, I’m not giving my maternelle students actual birthday cupcakes!)
On the morning of Day 2, I make a huge deal about how I need to know their birthdays, because when it is their birthday, I will give them a little surprise.
(I do crazy straws or glow necklaces with a gift tag, depending on what’s available at the dollar store. The gift tag is a freebie in the Free French Resource Library if you need it!)
If you aren’t yet a member of my Free French Resource Library, just CLICK HERE to sign up and I’ll email you access instructions!
In order to let me know when their birthdays are, I have my students colour and cut out a cupcake with their name and the date of their birthday on it.
There are FREE cupcakes available from Creative Clips on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can grab them *right here*.
Recently, I started printing my students’ names on labels and they use those to “write” their names on their cupcakes once they are coloured. This helps me make sure that they don’t colour over their names, and it saves me time!
Once the birthday cupcakes are cut out, I hang them on the wall under the appropriate month.
The picture below is an old one – I forgot to take a picture with my new month tags this year. I’ll try and remember this week, so check back if you want to see what it looks like in my new classroom!
I made new month tags to match my classroom; they are also available for free in my French Resource Library. They are shiplap and teal, and I love them!
By explaining it in this way and showing my kids how I must have these cupcakes, most kids are pretty pumped about completing this activity – even though it’s “just” colouring. ;)
The cupcakes stay up all year long, and my kiddos LOVE checking to see whose birthday is coming up next!
And I love that I didn’t have to spend time creating an elaborate birthday poster that my students will never actually reference. My students have been so much more engaged with our birthday display every year since doing it this way!